Ex-Springboro schoolteacher’s criminal appeal dismissed

John Austin Hopkins
John Austin Hopkins

Credit: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction

Credit: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction

The 12th District Court of Appeals has dismissed the appeal of the ex-Springboro elementary school teacher sent to prison for sex crimes against first-grade girls during classes in his first full-time year teaching in the school district.

Warren County Common Pleas Judge Robert Peeler sentenced John Austin Hopkins, 26, of Springboro on June 3 to eight years in prison and designated Hopkins a Tier II sex offender, concluding a three-hour sentencing hearing.

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A notice of the dismissal of the appeal was filed Friday in the case by lawyer, Will Oswall. The appeal refers to “a letter dated Nov. 2 dated 2020” that was not on file Friday in Warren County.

Assistant Warren County Prosecutor Kirsten Brandt filed a brief Nov. 2 in the 12th District Court of Appeals calling for Hopkins' resentencing.

“The trial court’s designation of Hopkins’s prison sentence as mandatory was error, and the case should be remanded for a new sentencing hearing,” Brandt said in the brief.

The brief followed one in September by Oswall.

The appellate court had yet to rule on the resentencing.

After almost 11 hours of deliberation on March 13, Hopkins was found guilty on 34 of 36 counts of gross sexual imposition involving 27 of the 28 alleged victims and taken into custody.

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 email afterward.

Hopkins' lawyers said 27 years in prison was a sentence more in line with a murder case and suggested in-patient treatment.

The judge ordered consecutive and concurrent terms totaling eight years.

The investigation began after one of the children came home in March 2019 and told her parents how happy she was to have finally gotten to sit on Hopkins' lap.

After months of investigation, including review of hours of school surveillance video, Hopkins was accused of sexually touching 28 girls during his first-grade gym class at Clearcreek Elementary School from December 2018 to March 2019.

Oswall could not be reached for comment and local court officials declined to comment on the dismissal.

As a Tier II sexual offender, Hopkins — once he is released from prison — must register his address every six months with his local sheriff’s office for 25 years.

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