LEBANON, Ohio (WDTN) – Warren County Assistant Prosecutor Julie Kraft said a Minnesota Multiphasic Inventory test – a 500-plus question test given to former Springboro gym teacher John Austin Hopkins – showed he had sexual interests in girls as young as 6 years old, a point she argued on Thursday with defense witness Dr. Fred Peterson.
Peterson was the defense’s key witness for Hopkins’ defense. The clinical psychologist, who said in court he worked at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, testified the MMPI test often had wrong results, especially for people suffering autism, because it was designed to diagnose people who weren’t on the autism spectrum. Peterson said he diagnosed Hopkins with autism spectrum disorder after watching his behavior in interviews and in surveillance footage of his gym class. He said autism combined with naive sexual development and a desire for affection drove him to inappropriate behavior in his first-grade Clearcreek Elementary gym class.
Kraft argued with Peterson over the MMPI report and asked Peterson why he didn’t include more of its findings in his own report. He said he diagnosed Hopkins with autism due to some of the social cues and physical behaviors he often engaged in, such as pulling on his clothes habitually while testifying the MMPI report was often wrong.
Peterson testified that Hopkins had no signs of being a pedophile. He said Hopkins was given a Multiphasic Sex Inventory test. He said in the over 300 tests he’s given, Hopkins’ results were the most disorganized. He said the test included 22 different sexual interest categories and included a separate camera filming him as he watched the test.
“It indicates an undeveloped sexual identity or sexual naivety, or a complete lack of a sexual experience base.”
He said Hopkins’ hugging and touching of students was due to a combination of his autism and lack of awareness of his own physical and social behavior. He said Hopkins overuse of porn and his own virginity were other issues in his lack of sexual development.
Hopkins said in interrogation he didn’t know surveillance camera worked
Detectives Terry Dunkle and Dustin Christian initially questioned Hopkins when he was put on paid leave by the Springboro Community Schools administration. The court began seeing the video of the questioning on Wednesday. It continued into the first part of Thursday’s session.
In the interrogation video shown in court, Hopkins said he stuck to rules of side hugs and being careful not to get into a questionable situation with a student. Dunkle and Christian said his statements weren’t matching up with what was found in surveillance video from his gym class.
Hopkins said he didn’t know the surveillance camera in the gym was turned on.
Dunkle and Christian said in the interrogation video they were aware of the alleged assaults committed by Hopkins from the surveillance video.
“I don’t think you are going to want to take the chance on what’s going to happen,” Christian said to Hopkins. “You’re going to have to look over your shoulder. Parents are going to be out there. People are going to be thinking that’s that gym teacher, the guy who was touching little girls.”
Hopkins denied the allegations and said he felt the detectives were trying to box him into an answer.
“I feel like unless I say I was aroused, that’s the only way out for me,” Hopkins said. “Then what.”
Dunkle countered: “The video is showing something totally different. You’re trying to walk around it.”
On cross-examination, defense attorney David Chicarelli asked Dunkle about Hopkins re-adjusting his clothes. School staff members said they had seen Hopkins aroused in the videos and walking in long steps, skipping, or fidgeting with his clothing to adjust himself after being aroused around students. Chicarelli said his pulling on clothes and his strange walking was due to his autism disorder.
“The penguin walk, did you know that’s a characteristic of someone with autism disorder,” Chicarelli said to Dunkle.
Chicarelli challenged Dunkle on how the techniques the detectives were using in the video weren’t honest. Christian and Dunkle had said “the sooner you say the truth” easier things would be for him.
“You were telling him you were going to help him and get him mental help,” Chicarelli said. Saying the detectives were misleading his client during questioning.
“It’s tough to watch”
Springboro Police Detective Terry Dunkle testified on Thursday about the reactions parents had when seeing videos of John Austin Hopkins, a former Springboro gym teacher, allegedly sexually assaulting their children while in his class at Clearcreek Elementary School.
“It’s tough to watch,” Dunkle said emotionally. “I had one parent punch a desk. He didn’t know how else to react to that.”
Professor Purcell Taylor testified as an expert witness. Taylor is a professor of psychology.
Prosecutor Kevin Hardman boosted Taylor’s credentials and discussed his work training students to work with sex offenders and sex offender victims. He described the grooming process a predator takes a victim through.
“They work to prepare a child for sexual abuse,” Taylor said. “The goal is to prepare the victim. Eight-five percent of the time the assault is committed by someone the victim is familiar with.
Hopkins is facing 36 counts of gross sexual imposition.