Independence band teacher charged with having sexual relations with female student

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - An Independence, Mo., teacher is accused of molesting a student.

James N. Owens, 27, of Lee's Summit, faces one count of enticement of a child and second-degree child molestation. The enticement charge is a felony, and the molestation charge is a misdemeanor.

Court records show Owens engaged in electronic conversations of a sexual nature with a 14-year-old girl. According to the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office, Owens also subjected the girl to sexual contact.

Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Owens was a teacher at William Chrisman High School, and the victim was a student.

According to the probable cause statement, officers were dispatched to William Chrisman High School on Aug. 20 to investigate a possible sexual offense. The officer said during the meeting at the school, the reporting party said his wife saw a Facebook chat between the victim and Owens, who was her band teacher.

The reporting party said the conversation was live between the two and that past conversations were discovered that contained sexually explicit messages from Owens to the victim.

The victim had a meeting with the school counselor and said she had been involved in a romantic relationship with Owens since March 2012, according to court records. The records showed the victim told authorities the relationship involved kissing and touching and that the contact occurred at school, sometimes in the band room.

The detective in Independence reviewed the archived chat log and found the following conversation from Aug. 10.

Warning: The following conversation includes sexually explicit language.

victim: I do know baby! Hopefully you got a nice glimpse of my boobs to get you through :) lol
James Nolan Owens: Yes!!! Huge baby … can't wait to kiss them!
Victim: Well I have to say the same about your area! :)
James Nolan Owens: Ha!! Well … u make me ------- :) I can't wait to ------ for you again :)
Victim: Mmm :) it seems like its been so long!!
James Nolan Owens: Yeah … we will fix that!!! Urgh … I hope

Authorities discovered Owens and the victim communicated by text message and phone calls as well. They discovered more than 1,500 text messages from June to August between the pair and more than 100 phone calls.

A search of Owens' cellphone and computer hard drive showed photographs of the victim without a shirt or bra in the form of Facebook chats and text messages on the phone, according to the probable cause statement.

Rachel Ketchum is a sophomore clarinet player in the band. She said the news of her director's alleged sexual behavior is shocking and upsetting.

"Nobody had an easy time getting through this season," Ketchum said. "Our program was really down when he came in, and he was able to bring us together and build us stronger and makes us really close." 

Her mother Mary Ann Ketchum has been involved with the William Chrisman Band for seven years. She described Owens as a trusting teacher.

"I'm in shock. I'm really  having a real hard time with it," Mary Ann said. "Yes, there are papers to read and reports to look at, but in my heart I'm sorry this ever had to happened because we were becoming a big family with the band." 

According to a statement from the Independence School District, Owens was immediately put on leave once officials learned of the allegations more than three months ago. He has not been back to the school since.

They said Independence police asked them not to reveal information about the allegations until their investigation was complete.

Prosecutors have requested a bond of $75,000 for Owens.

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