WARREN — A former mathematics teacher with the River Gate High School in Warren, earlier convicted of sex offenses involving a 15-year-old girl, said he contemplated jumping into a lake rather than attending his sentencing hearing on Wednesday.
Jordan Owens, 30, of Niles Cortland Road, Howland, cried uncontrollably as he was being handcuffed by sheriff deputies after Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge W. Wyatt McKay sentenced him to two years in prison and labeled him a Tier 2 sex offender.
On Feb. 23, Owens pleaded guilty to two counts of importuning, and one count each of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles and illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance. In December, he was named in a sealed indictment by a Trumbull County grand jury.
Owens’ lawyer, public defender Alexander Keane, argued his client should be put on probation because he had no criminal history and scored low for risk to re-offend — before he claimed probation officers increased that score.
McKay, however, said the increasing of the re-offend score had to do with the seriousness of the offenses and the way Owens abused his power and influence as a teacher to perpetrate his sex offenses. The judge agreed with the statements of Assistant Prosecutor Ryan Sanders who argued Owens deserved a prison term.
“Since he was in a position of trust, the state feels that a prison term would be necessary,” Sanders said.
As a sex offender, Owens after release from prison must register his address with the sheriff twice per year for 25 years.
Before sentencing, Owens said he went into teaching “to make a difference in areas like Warren” that have high poverty levels. He said he went out in the morning before the hearing to contemplate his life, staring at a lake as he pondered his bad decisions.
“I just wanted to help people, but I made a terrible mistake and I betrayed the trust of a lot of people,” Owens said, saying he will carry that burden for the rest of his life.
The victim did not wish to be heard by the court, prosecutors said.
That victim in the case, which was investigated in October 2020 by the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office, was a 15-year-old girl at River Gate School. Prosecutors said Owens solicited the juvenile for sex and then sent nude images of himself via cellphone and received similar images from the student.
Prosecutors said officials at the school took immediate action in dismissing the teacher as soon as the allegations surfaced.
According to River Gate Principal Jason Cooper, Owens taught mathematics at the life-skills organization prior to being dismissed in February 2021. Owens’ book-in record at the jail showed that he most recently worked as a driver for DoorDash.
He had been free after posting bond until deputies handcuffed him after Wednesday’s hearing.
According to its website, River Gate is an alternative school that serves students who traditionally would be enrolled in grades 9-12, ages 15 to 21. These students may have fallen behind in earning credits, have difficulty passing state-required tests, are at risk of dropping out of school or just need a new environment in which they can succeed.