John Austin Hopkins, 25-year-old gym teacher at Clearcreek Elementary School, was accused of 36 counts of gross sexual imposition with 28 first-grade female students in a class he taught.
Hopkins is accused of inappropriate contact with potentially up to 88 girls during his time as a teacher at Clearcreek Elementary, which is in the Springboro school district. Though at this time he is only accused of 36 counts of third-degree felony with 28 young girls.
The parents of 22 Springboro claim the school district failed to protect their children from Hopkins in a lawsuit filed Friday, Sept. 13.
The lawsuit alleged that Hopkins had installed an alarm on the classroom door, alerting him to when someone wanted access to the room. He also locked the door, as per the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit:
“With knowledge of Springboro administration, including Schroer and Corder, Hopkins kept the door to the gymnasium locked during classes, which prevented access by Springboro personnel. With knowledge of Springboro administration, including Schroer and Corder, Hopkins installed a doorbell on the exterior of the gymnasium door to alert him when any Springboro personnel wanted to access the gymnasium.”
According to Scott Marshall, the district’s communications coordinator, the gymnasium door was never locked, according to an email reported by the Dayton Daily News last week.
“The gymnasium did have a doorbell, however, it did not signal when people entered. Based on the investigation, and evaluation walk-throughs by administration, the gymnasium door was never locked during class time,” said Marshall.
The lawsuit further infers that the district, including former superintendent Daniel Schroer and the principal of Clearcreek Elementary Carrie Corder, knew of the locked door and holds them responsible as well.
The lawsuit also states that security cameras, installed and operated by the school caught Hopkins a total of 100 times making inappropriate contact with minors who were his students between Dec. 2018 and March 2019.
“The primary defendant is the school system, and then the former superintendent and then the principal. John Hopkins is mentioned last,” Hopkins’ criminal lawyer, David Chicarelli, said in a statement given to Dayton Daily last Tuesday.
“Other teachers’ classrooms had a doorbell (not all), as classroom doors (not the gymnasium) are typically closed and locked during class,” said Marshall in June.
Last Monday, lawyer Angela Wallace filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, stating that the school district was violating the rights of parents of students by not turning over the video surveillance of Hopkins alleged crimes.
“We were able to identify 88 female first grade students who had some type of physical interaction with Mr. Hopkins,” said prosecutor David Fornshell, in a statement reported to WHIO. “His focus definitely was on the little girls.”
“We tried to reach a resolution informally with the school and were unable to do so,” said Wallace in a statement reported to Dayton Daily.
The district didn’t make a statement as of last Monday, citing “pending litigation.”
The lawsuit is brought on behalf of only 22 students, though it is proposed for “all female students in the Springboro Community City School District that were enrolled in the first grade at Clearcreek Elementary during the 2018-2019 school year and suffered sexual contact by John Austin Hopkins, and the guardian(s) of those students.”
According to the lawsuit, the “proposed class” includes “parents and natural guardians of female first-grade students that attended Clearcreek Elementary during the 2018-2019 school year, referred to collectively as child victims and individually as Child Victim A through L.”
Hopkins resigned back in March after serving as a full-time teacher for the school and as a long-term substitute reaching as far back as 2017.
The lawsuit states that “due to Hopkins’ relationships with teachers and former administration of Springboro,” Schroer recommended Hopkins be hired “irrespective of his qualifications or background.”
The lawsuit also claims that “some child victims were subjected to sexual contact by Hopkins before December 2018. These instances of sexual contact are believed to have been recorded by security cameras, but no video proof of those instances remain as Springboro purports to have destroyed all security camera footage recorded before December 2018.”
Also, according to the lawsuit, the school district is violating federal law by not releasing the footage of the instances of misconduct.
The school’s superintendent, Schroer, was placed on paid administrative leave on Aug. 16, and later resigning after an investigation involving “financial allegations” were brought against him.
A spokesman for the district said that the resignation had nothing to do with the Hopkins case, at the time.
Hopkins remains free on house arrest for the time being, as evidence and its availability are sorted out.