A gym teacher in Springboro, Ohio who had contact with nearly 100 children is being accused of inappropriately touching several of them after potentially incriminating video of his interactions with the kids was discovered.
A former physical education instructor at Clearcreek Elementary, 25-year-old John Austin Hopkins has been indicted on 36 counts of gross sexual imposition involving 28 students. Surveillance footage from December 2018 through March 2019 depicting Hopkins' interactions with students was immediately investigated after a parent of one of the allegedly assaulted children notified the Warren County police on March 8.
Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell explained how the video led to the charges brought against Hopkins.
"The indictments are the culmination of a three-month investigation by the Springboro Police Department as well as our office into what was initially reported as inappropriate physical contact by Mr. Hopkins with a female, first-grade student at Clearcreek Elementary School," said Fornshell, according to ABC 12 of San Antonio, Texas. "We believe there was evidence not just of inappropriate contact, but also of potential criminal conduct on the part of Mr. Hopkins."
Fornshell added that more indictments may have been possible had the security footage from earlier dates been available.
All of the alleged incidents occurred at the school's gym.
A series of seven letters were sent to parents throughout the investigation informing them of the accusations being made against Hopkins.
"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," reads one of the letters, according to WHIO of Dayton, Ohio. "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."
Hopkins had begun working with the school as a substitute teacher before being hired full-time for the 2018-2019 school year. Hopkins had taught both first and sixth graders, according to The Cincinnati Inquirer. He was placed on administrative leave as soon as the school heard of the accusations made against him.
Heidi Malott, clinical program manager at the Mayerson Center for Safe and Healthy Children, said the alleged incidents should inspire more dialogue between parents and their children.
“Unfortunately, this gives a really good example of how come we should be starting early and having those conversations intermittently with kids,” Malott told WCPO of Cincinnati, Ohio. "I think a lot of parents feel uncomfortable raising this conversation with their children. But just as we talk about bullying and other health and safety issues, parents need to be talking to their kids about this issue, about body safety."
Hopkins is currently in police custody and is awaiting arraignment.
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