Schoolgirl Crush

He was a popular teacher at Council Rock South — renowned for his dedication to his students. She was a high-school senior — pretty, smart, and going places. At a time when the divide between child and adult is harder and harder to find, was their next step nearly inevitable?

The question is, was everybody at Council Rock South having trouble adding 2 + 2, or did they simply decide to look the other way while Hawkins bore in?

Sergeant Bill Klein of the Northampton police (no relation to the superintendent), who oversaw the interrogation of witnesses in the case, points out that in the 25 years he’s been in the business, he’s seen a big change in people coming forward to finger suspect behavior. Why? Fear of lawsuits.

A teacher in another district, who lives nearby and knows about the Hawkins case, points out an obvious reason teachers would think long and hard before telling on one of their own: “Everyone in the district would know, everyone in the surrounding districts would know, everyone who got hired would know, it would follow me my entire career, I would be pointed to as the one who … ”

In fact, several colleagues sent letters to the court defending Hawkins, including David Jacoby, the department coordinator of social studies at CRS, who wrote that he was sure “many” girls had crushes on Hawkins, and “if that were the case, Mr. Hawkins was good at rebuffing such advances.”

But if the faculty culture wasn’t going to put a crimp in the freedom a revered teacher like Hawkins had, roaming the halls of Council Rock, then 17-year-olds — Jane’s friends who knew what was happening — had a decision to make: Do we try to stop it?     

Half a dozen seniors knew about Jane’s romance with Mr. Hawkins for weeks, once her best friend let it leak. Aneesh Kelkar, close to both Jane and her best friend, says it was a long-standing joke, how tight Jane had gotten with Mr. Hawkins — a joke Jane herself played along with.

But then one day in early February, at Jane’s house, Aneesh borrowed her BlackBerry. A message to Jane appeared on the screen — a heart, from Batman. Below, Jane had sent a message: “I love you, Hawk.” Aneesh knew it was Hawkins, who was in the habit of pasting Batman stickers on tests before returning them to students.

That night, Aneesh told Jane’s best friend what he’d seen, and she told him about the affair. That’s when he started following Jane’s Honda out of the parking lot on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when she’d head toward Newtown, where Hawkins lived. Sometime in March, he saw Jane driving away from Starbucks in Newtown. Hawkins was in the passenger seat.

As Aneesh — and the handful of other students — watched, Jane and Hawkins grew bolder, almost daring somebody to catch them. She started wearing a red sweatshirt and a gray Eagles hoodie that were his to school. Hawkins, Aneesh’s homeroom teacher, remarked to him one Monday: “I heard you had a fun Saturday night, Aneesh.” Aneesh had been over at Jane’s house that weekend, and there was only one way Hawkins could have known that.