Elementary PE teacher accused of sexually assaulting 28 first-graders, police say

By Mary Claire Patton - Digital Content Curator

SPRINGBORO, Ohio - John Austin Hopkins, 25, is a former physical education teacher at Clearcreek Elementary and Springboro Intermediate schools who is charged with 36 counts of gross sexual imposition involving 28 students, according to the Warren County Prosecutor's Office.

A parent of one of the students who was allegedly assaulted notified school staff of the incident, who then notified Warren County police.

An investigation began immediately following the accusation and investigators were able to obtain 90 days of footage from the school's security system.

The 36 counts of sexual assault charges Hopkins is being indicted on stem from the surveillance video at Clearcreek Elementary from December 2018 through March 2019.

"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," Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said.

Investigators identified 88 female, first-grade students who had some kind of physical interaction with Hopkins via the school's security footage.

"We believe there was evidence not just of inappropriate contact, but also of potential criminal conduct on the part of Mr. Hopkins," Fornshell said.

Fornshell said in a news conference he suspects there would have been more indictments had the school's security footage gone back farther.

Hopkins started as a substitute teacher at the school and was assigned to a full-time position as a physical education teacher at Clearcreek Elementary for the 2018-2019 school year. He was placed on paid administrative leave the same day the school received the phone call from the concerned parent.

All of the incidents occurred inside the school's gymnasium, according to Fornshell.

“A lot of these little girls would compete for his attention during the class… One of the little girls, he convinced her that they were going to be married when she got older,” Fornshell said.

All the students identified were referred to a local child advocacy center.

Hopkins is in custody, awaiting arraignment.

Watch the full news conference below:

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