Ex-Springboro teacher posts bond, will be released from jail

The former Springboro teacher facing 36 charges of gross sexual imposition of girls in his first-grade class will be released from jail after posting bond Friday morning, jail officials said.

John Austin Hopkins, 25, of Springboro, will be required to stay at his family’s home subject to electronic monitoring, while awaiting trial in Warren County Common Pleas Court.

Hopkins used $50,000 in cashier’s checks to post the bond.

Judge Robert Peeler set the bond and conditions for release during a hearing Thursday in a courtroom filled with parents and supporters of the children whose physical interactions with Hopkins were “sufficiently questionable,” according to investigators, to warrant grand jury review. Hopkins’ family and friends, and media, also attended the hearing.

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On Monday, Hopkins surrendered to police and was booked into the county jail in Lebanon without bail after his indictment on charges involving 28 girls younger than 13 years old during his class at Clearcreek Elementary School in Springboro.

The charges stem from a grand jury review of Hopkins’ alleged touching of 88 girls in more than 100 incidents, according to Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell.

Also Thursday, Ed Perry, the defense lawyer originally hired in the case, was replaced by a father-and son team, David Anthony Chicarelli, a long-time local lawyer and former judge, and son David Allen Chicarelli, a 2007 graduate of Springboro High School.

The elder Chicarelli urged Peeler to set a fair bond, emphasizing the difficulty of Hopkins helping with his defense while in jail.

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The lawyer also maintained Hopkins’ innocence and talked about the stress on his family.

“He’s got no record. His family is well-known in the Springboro community. They are devastated by this,” he said.

Hopkins’ family — Lisa Hopkins, a fifth-grade teacher at Dennis Elementary, and the late Springboro Principal James Dalton, “absolutely, unequivocally” backed him, David Anthony Chicarelli said.

He defended any touching.

“There was nothing that was done improperly,” he said.

He will review the prosecution’s evidence, including security video Fornshell indicated was the key evidence in most charges.

“We don’t know what’s on the video,” David Anthony Chicarelli said. “I don’t know how clear they are.”

If convicted of gross sexual imposition, Peeler said Hopkins faced at least one and up to fve years in prison.

After the hearing, Angela Wallace, a lawyer representing the families of 28 of the 88 girls, said the case began when a girl came home from school and told her parents happily about her day.

“It was finally my turn to sit in Mr. Hopkins’ lap,” Wallace said the girl told her parents on March 6, prompting a call to the school and triggering the three-month investigation leading to Monday’s indictment.

“This was a difficult day for everybody,” she said. “This has been a long process for the families.”

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