Videos show Ohio gym teacher sexually abusing 28 first-grade girls, putting hand up their shirts and skirts in the classroom
A gym teacher in Ohio has been accused of sexually exploiting 28 first-grade girl students after surveillance video showed him making the girls sit on his lap and his hands up their shirts and skirts.
Authorities revealed that a grand jury charged John Austin Hopkins with 36 counts of gross sexual imposition with 28 girls from the first grade, People reports.
On March 8, a concerned father drove to Clearcreek Elementary School in Springboro, Ohio, to meet with the principal regarding the possible abuse.
“When the parent asked his daughter how her day went, she said it was a great day, because she got to sit on Mr. Hopkins lap,” Scott Marshall, Communications coordinator for Springboro School District told the outlet. “He was concerned by that.”
When school administrators checked security cameras, they allegedly saw the girl in the gymnasium sitting on Hopkins' lap.
“Within minutes, John Austin Hopkins was removed from the classroom and we turned it over to the Springboro Police Department,” Marshall said. “It was all out in the open. None of the footage showed him being one-on-one with students. It was all out in the open.”
The disgraced teacher was placed on administrative leave on March 8 itself, and he put down his resignation on March 12.
“It’s shocking, it’s gut-wrenching,” Marshall told the outlet.
Warren County Prosecutor, David P. Fornshell told a Monday press conference that authorities thoroughly studied security camera footage since December 2018, and found Hopkins putting his hands up the shirts and skirts of his girl students.
“It was apparent within the first day worth of video that this was going to be bigger than, frankly, anything we’ve ever handled,” Fornshell said.
Following the investigation, the grand jury was presented with instances of alleged inappropriate touching of a disturbing 88 different first-grade girls. Jurors then agreed to indict Hopkins on 36 counts of gross sexual imposition related to 28 different girls.
But the innocent children had no inkling they were being sexually exploited by their teacher.
“Frankly, they loved him as a teacher because of the amount of affection he was showing them. What these kids didn’t realize is this was completely inappropriate and criminal,” he told reporters. “One of the little girls — he had convinced her they were going to be married when she got older.”
In fact, the girls competed for Hopkins' attention in class.
“All of the little girls in the class knew this type of conduct was going on,” Fornshell said. “The kids didn’t recognize anything at all going wrong. But when you’re watching it as an adult your stomach starts rolling. Because you’re like, ‘This is not okay at all.’ “
That said, the 36 sexual misconduct charges carry a 5-year maximum prison sentence each as they amount to third-degree felonies.