What is the value of a child’s innocence?
All students have the right to attend schools that are safe and conducive to learning and achievement, yet schools are experiencing increasingly frequent incidents that are having a devastating, long-term impact on students.
Predators come in all personalities, but usually, they have a pretty gregarious personality because that’s how they get away with it.
“Teacher charged with molesting student.” The headline appalls us, yet it somehow fails to shock us. We seem to be seeing this sort of story a lot lately.
Most teachers are amazing human beings who have only our children’s welfare at heart. However, every so often, a predator slips through it.
Particularly some cases of sex offenders who use the profession of teaching to target victims, just like John Austin Hopkins did—who was accused of child molestation by abusing 28 girls and touching 88 total over a three-month period!
Judge Robert Peeler also designated John Austin Hopkins, 26, of Springboro, as a Tier II sex offender, concluding a three-hour sentencing hearing in Warren County Common Pleas Court, Judge Peeler remarked, “People are punishing themselves for what you have done to these children,” While reading excerpts of statements from nine of the 27 victims.
According to Peeler, the seven members of Hopkins’ family begging for leniency were “in denial.”
Although no allegations of rape were made, he pointed out that the surveillance footage revealed unusually graphic details of Hopkins’ arousal as a result of touching the girls.
“We saw it, I saw your erection numerous times,” The judge said.
On March 13, 2022, the jury deliberated Hopkins’ case for eleven hours. Involving 27 of the 28 alleged victims, the jury decided that the former teacher had committed gross sexual imposition on 34 of the 36 counts, but after a thorough investigation revealed that Hopkins probably had 88 victims over the course of his career as a child abuser, parents of the victims urged law enforcement and the legal system to obtain “Justice of the eight-eight,” the slogan that was created.
One father said in his statement, “My family stands with all 88.”
The investigation was launched in March 2019 after his daughter came home and told them that she was happy she finally got to sit on Hopkins’ lap. Following months of investigation where investigators reviewed hours of surveillance footage, Hopkins was accused of sexually touching 28 girls from December 2018 to March 2019 during his first-grade gym class at Clearcreek Elementary School.
Additionally, a federal lawsuit is being prepared against the district, its executives, and Hopkins.
The victim statements criticized the Springboro school district and its leaders in addition to Hopkins.
As the case progressed, some parents claimed that their families had left the school district in order to start over because they lacked faith in the safety of their kids.
A mother said, “The more we advocated for our daughter, the worse things got. We knew we had to get out.”
Another mother revealed, “The sight of a school bus made me sick.”
One mother said, “Today I hope justice is served on the monster who created havoc for so many Springboro families.”
Another mother stated: “The betrayal is very hard to grasp and the horrible memories never go away.”
Numerous mothers spoke about their child’s lost innocence and their feelings of guilt.
“I couldn’t protect my own daughter,” one said.
Prosecutors urged Peeler to sentence Hopkins to a minimum of 27 years.
“We’re very disappointed with an eight-year sentence, given the scope of devastation that Mr. Hopkins inflicted on all of these families and the entire community of Springboro,” Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said in an emailed statement.
Hopkins’ lawyers maintained that a 27-year prison sentence was more in line with a murder case and suggested in-patient treatment. Eight years worth of terms, both concurrent and consecutive, was considered by the judge.
Hopkins, a well-known local former swimmer, and coach expressed regret to the neighborhood, the parents of the victims, and his own family.
“Clearly I have things to work on. I will make the best out of any situation,” he said. Following his sentence, he will be required to disclose that he is a sex offender for 25 years.
Watch the video below: