A former gym teacher who worked at Clearcreek Elementary School in Springboro, Ohio has been charged with 36 counts of gross sexual imposition. Police say that 25-year-old John Austin Hopkins molested at least 28 first-grade girls between December 2018 and March 2019 inside the school's gymnasium.
Authorities were tipped off about Hopkins by a parent of one of the girls he allegedly sexually assaulted.
"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 reviewed surveillance footage from the school and identified 88 different girls he had some form of contact with.
"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," Fornshell explained. "That's really what we saw mostly with respect to these interactions."
Officials say the young girls loved the attention he was giving them and were too young to realize that what he was doing was inappropriate. He even convinced one young girl that they were going to be married when she got older.
"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."
A grand jury reviewed the evidence and decided to pursue charges on behalf of 28 of the girls.
Hopkins is in custody, awaiting arraignment on the charges. If convicted, he faces up to five years behind bars.
Photo: Warren County Jail