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Examiner
  • Ex-Chrisman teacher charged with enticing 14-year-old

  •  A William Chrisman High School teacher has been charged in a child molestation case involving a 14-year-old student.


    James N. Owens, 27, of Lee’s Summit, faces one felony count of enticement of a child and second degree child molestation, which is a misdemeanor. He was charged Tuesday, and prosecutors requested a $75,000 secured bond.

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  •  A William Chrisman High School teacher has been charged in a child molestation case involving a 14-year-old student.
    James N. Owens, 27, of Lee’s Summit, faces one felony count of enticement of a child and second degree child molestation, which is a misdemeanor. He was charged Tuesday, and prosecutors requested a $75,000 secured bond.
    According to the probable cause statement, the sexual misconduct allegedly occurred between March and August of this year. The mother of the victim intercepted a conversation thread on Facebook that included Owens, who is the William Chrisman band teacher, and the girl. After looking through the messages, the mother discovered that many of the chats contained sexually explicit and inappropriate messages from Owens.
    The girl later admitted through an interview with a school counselor, that she and Owens had been involved in a romantic relationship since March 2012. The relationship included kissing and touching, which sometimes occurred in the band room.
    Following the initial investigation, Independence police obtained consent to search the victim’s cell phone. After searching the phone, it was discovered that the two had also been communicating through text messages, some of which were sexually explicit.
    A court order was obtained last month to go through Owens cell phone records, which indicated more than 100 calls were made to or from the victim’s phone and more than 1,500 text messages.
    In 2011, the Missouri Legislature created legislation that would have made Facebook friendships between students and teachers illegal. However, later that year, that portion of the law was repealed and, instead, school districts had until March to create their own social networking policies.
    According to the Independence School District’s Communications with Students by Electronic Media policy, all communication between teachers and students, whether verbal or nonverbal, must be “professional and respectful.”
    Employees can only initiate a private electronic conversation with a student if they have prior authorization from building administration or in the case of an emergency. Teachers who receive student-initiated communications must report them immediately. In addition, employees who have personal social media accounts must decline requests from students.
    Teachers who violate the policy will face disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.
    Superintendent Jim Hinson issued a statement of charges against Owen’s contract Tuesday. Those charges are seeking the termination of his contract following the allegations of the inappropriate relationship.
    According to the prosecutor's documents, the allegations were brought to the district’s attention in August, at which time it started its own investigation. Owens was immediately put on leave and has not returned to William Chrisman. The Jackson County prosecutor’s office has asked that the district refrain from offering any additional information.
     
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