LEBANON, Ohio (FOX19) - A former Springboro physical education teacher faces a 36-count indictment on gross sexual imposition charges, Warren County Prosecutor Dave Fornshell announced Monday.
Fornshell says John Austin Hopkins, 25, of Springboro was captured on surveillance video having inappropriate physical contact with 88 first grade girls.
At the time of the incidents, Hopkins was employed by the Springboro Community City Schools as a physical education teacher at Clearcreek Elementary and Springboro Intermediate, Fornshell says.
Fornshell says his office called a special session to present all 88 video-taped incidents to a grand jury. The grand jury then returned an indictment on 36 counts related to Hopkins’ contact with 28 of the students.
The prosecutor did not elaborate on the reason the grand jury only returned indictments for 28 of the 88 students, but said it may have been due to the way each of the girls was touched.
He says it was up to the grand jury to determine what was inappropriate contact and what was criminal contact.
The video surveillance was captured between December 2018 and March 2019 in the Clearcreek elementary school gymnasium.
Fornshell says the contact with the girls happened in front of the entire class.
He also elaborated that in one instance, Hopkins told one of the girls that they would be married when she was older and created a culture in which the girls were competing for his affections because they did not understand what was happening.
The prosecutor said that in some cases, the assault is worse for the parents of the girls because they comprehend what has happened, but the girls are too young.
He said it serves as an unfortunate lesson in teaching children about what is and isn’t okay in regards to their physical safety.
Hopkins taught first and sixth grade at both Clearcreek Elementary and Springboro Intermediate over the past school year. Before that, he was a substitute teacher in the school district.
Fornshell says that though both boys and girls were present in the gym at the time the sexual contact happened, Hopkins only touched the girls.
Hopkins did not have contact with older students as far as Springboro police are aware, Fornshell says.
He was put on administrative leave in March when the school district began investigating allegations of possible misconduct, school officials said at the time.
He quit just days later.
According to The Blessing Law Firm, a victim in this case has sought legal help.
No arraignment has been set as of yet.
Springboro Schools released the following statement:
"On Friday, March 8th, 2019, within minutes of learning of the potential conduct of Mr. Hopkins, Springboro Schools immediately placed John Austin Hopkins on Paid Administrative Leave. On March 12th, 2019, Mr. Hopkins submitted a letter of resignation, which was approved by the district’s Board of Education at a special board meeting held March 13th, 2019. Mr. Hopkins is no longer an employee of Springboro Schools.
Shortly after Mr. Hopkins resigned, Springboro Schools submitted an Educator Misconduct Reporting Form to the Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE) Office of Professional Misconduct, regarding the Ohio Revised Code 3319.31, which states, “The employee resigned because of, or in the course of, an investigation regarding an act unbecoming the teaching profession.” The purpose of this submission by Springboro Schools is for ODE to consider revocation of Mr. Hopkins’ teaching license.
A series of seven (7) letters and several voice calls have been distributed to the parents of Springboro Schools throughout the course of the entire investigation process. Springboro Schools takes the allegations against Mr. Hopkins very seriously, and will continue working with the Springboro Police Department and the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office throughout this process.
For many families in our district, these are difficult times. Communication outreach and support is important. The dialogue between our district parents and administration is paramount, as is the safety of every student in our district. The Child Advocacy Center of Warren County (CAC) is offering a support/educational group for parents. This support group is located at the Child Advocacy Center of Warren County (320 E Silver St, Lebanon, OH 45036) and can be contacted at the following number, 513-695-3100."