INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - The high school band director accused of having sexual relations with one of his underage students is free on bond.
James N. Owens, 27, is charged with enticement of a child and child molestation. Prosecutors say he had sexual contact with a 14-year-old female band student on campus at William Christman High School in Independence, Mo., and exchanged inappropriate sexual communication on social media.
Owens resides in a Lee's Summit neighborhood, and his neighbors told 41 Action News that Owens is married. He has been the band director at William Christman for two years. The school's newspaper reported in Aug. 2010 that before coming to William Christman, Owens taught in Blue Springs for two years at Blue Springs High School and Blue Springs Middle School.
According to court documents, the 14-year-old alleged victim told a school counselor and police that her relationship with Owens began in March 2012.
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Julie Donelon, President of the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault, said it's common for child victims of sexual assault to believe they have a relationship with the adult who is legally abusing them.
"They are made to feel as if this relationship is a relationship, that this person, that this adult, is having a relationship with them, especially with adolescents," Donelon said. "(But) it's sexual abuse, it's not a relationship."
Donelon said she cannot comment on the Owens case, but confirmed that teenage girls are often easy prey for sexual predators.
"In general, people who sexually abuse children are people who take advantage of situations where they have power and control over people, where they can manipulate them and groom them into sexual activity," Donelon added.
In the Owens' case, an adult noticed the sexually explicit conversation between Owens and the student, and police were called.
Donelon said that's how it should work.
"If an adult sees what appears to be inappropriate relationship between an adult or a child, that's exactly what they should do," she said.
Owens is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Dec. 11.