SPRINGBORO, Ohio (FOX19) - Parents are shocked and stunned after learning that a former Springboro teacher and swim coach is accused of having sexual contact with nearly 30 young students.
John Austin Hopkins, once a 25-year-old physical education teacher with Springboro Schools, could now be facing time behind bars. Warren County Prosecutors said that Hopkins is facing numerous charges for having sexual contact with 28 first-graders between December 2018 and March 2019. More than 80 incidents, investigators said, were caught on camera.
Back in March, when the investigation started, authorities said that Hopkins was put on administrative leave. He later quit.
Hopkins, officials said, also resigned from a swim coach position he had at a Springboro area YMCA. A 14-year-old, who asked to remain anonymous, said she swam as part of Hopkins’ swim team at that YMCA when she was 12.
“We’re in swimsuits. We’re half-naked all the time," the swimmer said. "It’s surprising to me just how unbelievable it is.”
The swimmer and her mother, who also remained anonymous, said that they are appalled and shocked by the accusations. They believe they saw a different side of Hopkins.
“During practice or after practice he’d be in the hall, and all the little kids would go by and wave to him, you know he’s very popular with the kids, and now I’m wondering if any of them were the victims," the swimmer’s mother said.
The girl’s mother said she is an abuse survivor and described herself as hyper-vigilant. She said Hopkins did not show any signs.
“No one could’ve known that he could’ve been capable of what he’s alleged to have done," said the girl’s mother.
The mother of two said that she and her kids no longer live in Springboro, but said she has talked with both of her children to make sure that Hopkins did not target them.
She is hoping that other parents will start a conversation with their children too.
“You need to have those conversations with your child,” the swimmer’s mother said. "Make sure that they feel comfortable talking about uncomfortable things with you.”
Hopkins’ arraignment has not been set yet.
Springboro Schools released a statement on Monday:
"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. 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.
Shortly after Mr. Hopkins resigned, Springboro Schools submitted an Educator Misconduct Reporting Form to the Ohio Department of Education’s (ODE) Office of Professional Misconduct, regarding the Ohio Revised Code 3319.31, which states, “The employee resigned because of, or in the course of, an investigation regarding an act unbecoming the teaching profession.” The purpose of this submission by Springboro Schools is for ODE to consider revocation of Mr. Hopkins’ teaching license.
A series of seven (7) letters and several voice calls have been distributed to the parents of Springboro Schools throughout the course of the entire investigation process. Springboro Schools takes the allegations against Mr. Hopkins very seriously, and will continue working with the Springboro Police Department and the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office throughout this process.
For many families in our district, these are difficult times. Communication outreach and support is important. The dialogue between our district parents and administration is paramount, as is the safety of every student in our district. The Child Advocacy Center of Warren County (CAC) is offering a support/educational group for parents. This support group is located at the Child Advocacy Center of Warren County (320 E Silver St, Lebanon, OH 45036) and can be contacted at the following number, 513-695-3100."