The teacher harassed at least 28 first-grade girls and the judge was very strict.
John Austin Hopkins, a 25-year-old former elementary school gym teacher at Clearcreek Elementary School in Springboro, Ohio, was accused of inappropriately touching dozens of little girls, as young as 6 years old.
According to an investigation, the parents had reported these actions to the school administrators. Hopkins was caught on security cameras harassing multiple first-grade girls over a 3 month period.
He kissed the girls and touched them in their private parts and inside their blouses. And in gym class, he often turned off the lights.
After being accused of inappropriate behavior with 6-year-old girls, he testified to the police that he had simply hugged them or given them high fives, but the cameras in the gym showed something else.
According to the cameras and police statements, he had inappropriate physical contact with 88 girls.
Hopkins was caught with many of the young girls on his lap or straddling him in a “sexual manner,” Fornshell said. “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,” the prosecutor explained. “That’s really what we saw mostly with respect to these interactions,” he said, adding that the incidents occurred in the school gymnasium in front of the entire class.
He had told one of the girls that they would get married when she grew up. The little girls did not understand what he was doing and he told them that such a thing was normal.
The girls’ parents had the biggest difficulty because when they told them what happened to the teacher, they understood.
Out of 88 students, only 26 openly accepted physical contact. According to the judge, this may have come as a result of closeness or how far physical contact has gone.
Initially, the jury decided that he was not guilty.
The defense said Hopkins was not guilty. His defense said in court that he was autistic and did not understand the actions he was doing, but this was dismissed because there were boys in the class, but he only did these actions with girls.
Carrie Hester, former HR director at the school, however, testified that she noticed Hopkins had an erection in the footage.
Parents who were present said they were disgusted by his actions. “[Hopkins] put her on his lap, spread her legs, tickle her, nuzzling and all while gym class was going on,” one father said as parents and students testified against the former gym teacher.
After all this evidence, the jury found him guilty of 34 of the 36 charges. Adding all the years together, he was sentenced to 170 years in prison.
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