John Austin Hopkins, 25, a former elementary school teacher in Ohio, is facing dozens of charges for alleged sexual contact with first-grade students.
Hopkins was arrested on Monday, June 17, after a grand jury indicted him on 36 counts of gross sexual imposition, which is a third-degree felony. Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said the arrest was the result of a three-month investigation, which began in March, that included interviewing dozens of students and analyzing school surveillance video.
Hopkins was a gym teacher at Clearcreek Elementary in Springboro, which is located in southwestern Ohio. He resigned in March.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. John Austin Hopkins Was Accused of Having Inappropriate Physical Contact With at Least 28 First-Grade Girls; Investigators Identified 88 Potential Victims
The Springboro Police Department and the Warren County Prosecutor’s office began investigating John Austin Hopkins after a parent contacted the school district about alleged “inappropriate physical contact” between Hopkins and a first-grade girl. Administrators immediately brought in police to investigate the claim, prosecutor David Fornshell explained during a news conference.
Investigators identified 88 first-grade girls that had physical interactions with Hopkins while he was working as a gym teacher at Cleercreek Elementary. Fornshell explained that forensic experts with the Child Advocacy Center for Warren County interviewed many of the children to figure out what happened with their teacher.
Fornshell said that the evidence led investigators to suspect that the interactions between Hopkins and some of the female students were not only inappropriate but criminal. The 36 charges against Hopkins relate to contact Hopkins allegedly had with 28 of the first-grade girls.
2. Prosecutor: Hopkins Was Recorded on Surveillance Video Touching the Young Girls’ Backsides & Reaching Up Their Skirts
Prosecutor David Fornshell explained that investigators identified the 88 potential victims by going through the school’s surveillance video. The recordings were on a 90-day loop, so investigators could only see back to December of 2018.
All of the interactions between Hopkins and the first-grade girls happened in the gymnasium at Clearcreek Elementary. Fornshell said that Hopkins was seen “placing many of the girls on his lap, straddling him in what I would describe as a sexual manner. 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, grabbing their buttocks. That’s really what we saw mostly with respect to these types of interactions. It’s a gross sexual imposition count, it’s not a rape count. That demonstrates that we don’t have a situation where there was actual penetration of any of the first-graders, fortunately.”
Fornshell explained that based on the video evidence, Hopkins did not take the girls into isolated areas. Instead, the alleged touching happened “in open view of the other children” in the gymnasium.
3. Prosecutor: Hopkins Was a Popular Teacher
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell explained during a news conference on June 17 that John Austin Hopkins was clearly a popular teacher among the students, which came out during forensic interviews with the students. He described Hopkins behavior as “manipulative” and that he appeared to be “grooming” the girls.
Fornshell said that the first-graders would appear to compete for Hopkins’ attention. “Frankly, they loved him as a teacher because of the amount of affection that he was showing them. What these kids didn’t realize was this was completely inappropriate and criminal. It was felony conduct that he was engaging in.” Fornshell added, “One of the little girls was convinced, he had convinced her, that they were going to be married when she got older.”
Fornshell also described parents as feeling “traumatized” and that it remains to be seen what sort of counseling the little girls may need going forward.
4. John Austin Hopkins Began Working at the School as a Substitute Teacher & Also Coached Swimming
John Austin Hopkins began his professional career with the school district as a substitute teacher.
The prosecutor confirmed that Hopkins became a full-time teacher with Clearcreek Elementary and Springboro Intermediate at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. He taught physical education. The Ohio Department of Education website shows that he was issued a license to teach students K-12 in July of 2018. Springboro Schools has pushed to have his license revoked.
Hopkins also worked as a swim coach. WKRC-TV in Cincinnati reported that Hopkins was an assistant coach at the Coffman Family YMCA in Springboro.
5. Springboro Schools Placed Hopkins on Administrative Leave After the First Parent Came Forward & He Resigned a Few Days Later
John Austin Hopkins was placed on paid administrative leave on March 8, 2019, after a parent came forward to report that her daughter had allegedly been touched inappropriately by the gym teacher. He resigned four days later, according to a statement sent out by the school district and shared by WKRC-TV.
The CBS affiliate also reported that Hopkins had been an assistant swim coach at the Coffman Family YMCA in Springboro for 18 months. The president of the organization, Dale Brunner, told a Local 12 reporter that Hopkins was “never left alone with the swimmers.” The prosecutor’s office has stated that all of the incidences in which Hopkins was accused of touching the first-grade girls inappropriately occurred in the gymnasium of Cleercreek Elementary.