The following press release was issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Missouri on Tuesday, September 20, 2022.
ST. LOUIS – A former high school counselor in St. Louis County, Missouri on Tuesday admitted having sexual contact with one student and having inappropriate contact with nine others.
James Q. Jenkins, 38, pleaded guilty in front of U.S. District Judge Ronnie L. White to two felonies: coercion and enticement of a minor and transfer of obscene material to minors.
Between Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 1, 2021, while a high school counselor, Jenkins engaged in a pattern of inappropriate activity with multiple students.
Jenkins admitted approaching one 15-year-old student at school and telling her he wanted to get to know her better. The student began to go to Jenkins’ office, where they would paint or play board games. Jenkins began to contact the teen on her personal cell phone and via social media. Jenkins told the victim that he was very sexual, requested nude pictures and sent her nude pictures. He claimed he loved her and told her not to tell anyone about their communications while telling the victim that he wanted to have sex with her.
Jenkins approached another teen in the lunchroom and asked her to come see him. He soon began to compliment her body and told her that he wanted to engage in phone sex with her.
A third teen began meeting with Jenkins because of challenges at home. He started communicating with her in a sexual manner, sent her nude pictures of himself and requested pictures in return. He also engaged in sexual conduct with the teen while she was a student, on occasion leaving school early to do so. In his plea agreement, Jenkins disputed the teen’s claim that the first sexual encounter was non-consensual.
Jenkins told a fourth student that another teacher had recommended counseling. Jenkins brought up inappropriate topics, arranged to smoke marijuana with her and asked her to teach him a “sensual” dance.
About six more students reported inappropriate behavior. They told authorities that Jenkins made comments about their bodies, communicated with them on their personal cellular telephones and social media accounts, tried to make plans with them outside of school, showed them sexual videos, took his shirt off, called them by pet names and touched them in a manner that was inappropriate and uncomfortable, Jenkins’ plea agreement says.
Jenkins was counseled by school officials about concerns that he put off seeing male students in need of counseling while demonstrating alarming familiarity and frequency of contact with certain female students, his plea says.
After Jenkins quit in the summer of 2021, claiming his mother was ill, he tried to get work as an elementary school counselor. The investigation also revealed that Jenkins had been counseled and put on administrative leave by the St. Joseph School District in Missouri due to inappropriate behavior with female students, his plea says.
Jenkins is scheduled to be sentenced December 20. He faces a penalty of 10 years to life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The St. Louis County Police Department investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jillian Anderson prosecuted the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Department of Justice Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.