SPRINGBORO — A federal class-action lawsuit was filed against Springboro schools and former physical education teacher John Austin Hopkins by the attorney for 12 female first-grade students, according to federal court records.
Hopkins was indicted earlier this year on 36 counts of gross sexual imposition involving 28 students, court records show.
The class-action lawsuit was filed on Friday on behalf of 12 parents of children in Springboro schools. It alleges Hopkins installed a doorbell on the gymnasium door to alert him when school staff wanted access.
In addition to Hopkins, the suit names the Springboro Community City Schools, former Superintendent Daniel Schroer and Carrie Corder, principal at Clearcreek Elementary School.
As a class action, the lawsuit is filed on “behalf of themselves and other similarly-situated members of the class,” according to the complaint.
The class includes “parents and natural guardians of female first-grade students that attended Clearcreek Elementary during the 2018-2019 school year, referred collectively as child victims and individually as Child Victim A through L.”
The lawsuit asks the court to accept the filing with the parents “pseudonymously, as each of their minor children is a victim of child sexual abuse. Disclosure of plaintiff’s identities would reveal information of the utmost intimacy.”
Schroer was placed on paid administrative leave on Aug. 16, and then resigned, as the district investigated “financial allegations” brought against him, according to district statements. A district spokesman at the time said the resignation had no connection to the Hopkins case.
Hopkins’ resignation was accepted by the district on March 13.
He was also employed “as its long-term substitute physical education teacher at Clearcreek Elementary during the 2017-2018 school year,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims that “Springboro appointed a hiring committee for the position for which Hopkins was eventually hired. Due to Hopkins’ relationships with teachers and former administration of Springboro, “Schroer directed the hiring committee to hire Hopkins irrespective of his qualifications or background,” according to the lawsuit.
“During the 2018-2019 school year, 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 the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims Hopkins engaged in sexual contact with each of the victims.
“Many children were subjected to repeated sexual contact by Hopkins,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit points to “sufficiently questionable” incidents involving Hopkins and one of the students between December 2018 and March 2019 presented to a Warren County grand jury.
“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,” the lawsuit claims.