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Coronavirus: Ex-Springboro teacher’s sex imposition sentencing delayed

The sentencing of former Springboro teacher John Austin Hopkins has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Hopkins, 25, of Springboro is in the Warren County Jail. CONTRIBUTED
The sentencing of former Springboro teacher John Austin Hopkins has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Hopkins, 25, of Springboro is in the Warren County Jail. CONTRIBUTED

The sentencing of former Springboro teacher John Austin Hopkins has been delayed in anticipation of a large turnout in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Hopkins, 25, of Springboro is in the Warren County Jail, awaiting sentencing.

Judge Robert Peeler ordered a psychiatric evaluation on March 14 after a jury found Hopkins guilty on 34 of 36 gross sexual imposition charges on 28 girls during his first-grade gym class at Clearcreek Elementary School.

The rescheduling of the hearing, which had been set for April 22, delays parents their opportunity to make victim statements and families to move toward closure. Families also have a civil lawsuit pending against Hopkins and the Springboro school district.

“I know the parents are all anxious for a final resolution. The saving grace is that he was taken into custody immediately after the verdict was read, so it’s not like he’s out there in the community during the course of this delay,” Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said in an email Friday.

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On April 3, Peeler ordered the rescheduling to 1:30 p.m. June 3, anticipating “a large number of individuals will attend the sentencing, including family of the defendant, family of the victims, victim representatives, spectators, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the media.”

Peeler said the delay was in response to the global pandemic and steps taken by the World Health Organization, the Ohio Department of Health and Warren County Common Pleas Court as part of ”’urgent and aggressive action’ to control the spread”.

Fornshell concurred with Peeler’s thinking.

“We anticipate there will easily be more than 50 family members of the victims in attendance for the sentencing, plus attorneys, court staff, media members, etc. With that volume, there’s no feasible way to maintain an appropriate level of social distancing in any of our courtrooms,” Fornshell said in an email Friday.

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The delay will probably reduce the amount of time Hopkins would face in prison, as time in jail is credited against prison terms.

His lawyers, David Allen and David Anthony Chicarelli, declined to comment.