A former Springboro, Ohio, teacher was indicted on 36 counts of gross sexual imposition involving 28 students, according to the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office.
John Austin Hopkins, 25, was working as a physical education teacher at Clearcreek Elementary and Springboro Intermediate schools at the time of the alleged incidents.
“We had to coordinate a special section of the grand jury,” prosecutor David Fornshell said. “We believe there was not just evidence of inappropriate contact, but also of potential criminal conduct.”
All 36 counts are third-degree felonies and involve 28 different female students. Prosecutors and police worked to speak with 88 female students Hopkins had contact with.
“We were able to identify 88 female first-grade students who had some type of physical interaction with Mr. Hopkins,” Fornshell said. “His focus definitely was on the little girls.”
Hopkins is in custody. His first court date has not been set.
“They loved him as a teacher because of the amount of affection he was showing them,” Fornshell said. “What these kids didn’t realize was this was completely inappropriate and criminal.”
Fornshell said all of the incidents included in today’s indictment essentially happened in the open view of other children in the area of the Clearcreek Elementary School gym.
"He is placing many of the girls on his lap, straddling him in what I would describe as a sexual manner," Fornshell said, according to WLWT. "With respect to some of the girls, his hands are going up their shirts, both the front side and back sides of their shirts, reaching up under the skirt ... That's what we saw mostly with respect to these interactions."
The alleged sexual conduct, with victims under 13 years old, occurred between Dec. 12 and March 6, according to the indictment.
The charges stem from a lengthy investigation begun in March by Springboro police after police received a report of inappropriate physical conduct with a first-grade female student.
The school district placed Hopkins on administrative leave on March 8 over possible misconduct.
“Within minutes of learning of the potential conduct of Mr. Hopkins, Springboro Schools immediately placed John Austin Hopkins on paid administrative leave,” district spokesman Scott Marshall said in a prepared statement.
Hopkins resigned from his job with the school district on March 12. He also resigned from a job as swim coach at the Coffman YMCA in Springboro.
“School officials had placed Mr. Hopkins on Administrative Leave, but also wanted the Division of Police to review video and assist with an investigation for any potential criminal violations,” Springboro Police Chef Jeff Kruithoff said in a March 19 statement. “Since being called, over 500 work hours have been spent reviewing video of Mr. Hopkins classroom and work area.”
The district first learned of allegations of inappropriate conduct with a student after a parent reported concerns to the principal at Clearcreek Elementary.
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