The following press release was issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Eastern District of Missouri on Tuesday, December 20, 2022.
ST. LOUIS – U.S. District Judge Ronnie L. White on Tuesday sentenced a former St. Louis County, Missouri high school counselor who had sexual contact with one student and inappropriate contact with nine others to 15 years in prison.
After James Q. Jenkins, 38, is released from prison, he will be on supervised release for life and will have to register as a sex offender.
In court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jillian Anderson said Jenkins executed a “carefully orchestrated web of manipulation” that lasted months, and used students’ religious beliefs or past sexual abuse to prey on them.
She pointed out that Jenkins had been placed on administrative leave and counseled by a prior school for inappropriate behavior with students and sought a job at a third school even after his offenses in St. Louis County came to light in the summer of 2021.
In a letter about Jenkins to Judge White, the mother of one victim wrote, “He was supposed to be helping our seniors map out colleges to help them into the next step of their educational path. Instead, he was manipulating and grooming our girls for his pleasure while traumatizing them for life at the same time.” The mother added that her daughter wanted to attend the sentencing hearing but “couldn't handle the emotional turmoil from it.”
Jenkins pleaded guilty in September to two felonies, coercion and enticement of a minor and transfer of obscene material to minors, and admitted engaging in a pattern of inappropriate activity with multiple students between Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 1, 2021.
Jenkins contacted a 15-year-old student on her personal cell phone and via social media, his plea agreement says. Jenkins told her that he was very sexual, requested nude pictures and sent her nude pictures. He claimed he loved her and told her he wanted to have sex with her.
Jenkins complimented the body of a second teen and told her that he wanted to engage in phone sex with her.
Jenkins communicated with a third teen 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. The girl originally began meeting with Jenkins for counseling because of challenges at home.
Jenkins brought up inappropriate topics with a fourth student, arranged to smoke marijuana with her and asked her to teach him a “sensual” dance.
About six more students 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, called them by pet names and touched them in a manner that was inappropriate and uncomfortable.
One teen told other counselors that Jenkins took off his shirt on a Zoom call and touched himself after telling her to share details about when she was molested.
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.