A Harford County Public Schools teacher is accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a female student two decades ago when he was her teacher at Bel Air Middle School, according to police.
John David Hobbs, 51, who now lives in Fallston, is facing one count each of third-degree sex offense, child molestation and second-degree rape.
The investigation began in late January, when the former student came to investigators at the Harford County Child Advocacy Center. Because the alleged abuse occurred at Hobbs’ former home in Parkville, it was turned over to Baltimore County Police.
Hobbs, who is still employed by Harford County schools, was placed on paid administrative leave Feb. 5 when the school system became aware of the investigation, Jillian Lader, a spokesperson for school system said. He was placed on unpaid leave Thursday following his arrest, Lader said.
Baltimore County District Court Judge Michael Siri ordered Hobbs to be held without bond at a Thursday bail review hearing, but noted that he qualified for home-detention, which the judge set conditions for at the hearing. If released, Hobbs would have to avoid contact with minors except his son.
Hobbs’ attorney Brian Thompson and assistant state’s attorney Zachary Greenbaum said it is likely Hobbs will be released, and Siri said the determination to release him would take a couple of days.
Greenbaum said during the proceeding that the alleged offenses occurred multiple times, implying a danger to the public.
“The state does believe he is a public safety risk,” Greenbaum said. “The repeated activity indicates a sign of a sexual predator.”
Thompson countered that Hobbs was not a flight risk — he owns a home and has a family. He also said no one else has come forward to make similar allegations against Hobbs, showing that he was not a repeat sexual offender.
Thompson said he had yet to review the evidence and declined to comment further on the case after the hearing. Greenbaum also would not comment on the case.
Police received information from a woman in January who Hobbs had sexually abused her when he was her teacher at Bel Air Middle School in 1999 and 2000, according to documents filed in Baltimore County District Court. The abuse allegedly occurred at Hobbs’ home in Parkville.
The alleged abuse, the woman told police, including Hobbs touching her breasts and oral sex, according to the documents. The woman told police she never had intercourse with Hobbs, according to the documents.
She would occasionally visit or stay at Hobbs’ house, where the alleged abuse occurred, and he would drive her home. On one occasion Hobbs was driving her home, the woman told police she went in to hug him and he allegedly kissed her with his tongue. During another such ride home, he told the girl he loved her, according to the document.
On Jan. 29, detectives from the Harford County Sheriff’s Office and Bel Air Police Department conducted a “controlled call” to Hobbs with the woman on the line. On that call, the woman reminded Hobbs of their sexual encounters, and Hobbs was remorseful when she told him the experiences “incredibly affected her.”
“’I am going to be honest, what happened I hate myself for,’” Hobbs said, according to court documents.
Hobbs said he had been lonely and had fun hanging out with her, the documents state.
“At the end of the call, Defendant Hobbs stated, ‘I know it doesn’t mean anything, but I am sorry,’” according to the document.
Detectives from the Harford sheriff’s office and Bel Air police department interviewed Hobbs on Feb. 3, according to the documents. He confirmed that he taught the woman when she was in eighth grade and that she did come over to his house approximately six times.
Hobbs told police the student “came on to him a few times,” but that he told her no. He acknowledged fondling the girl’s breasts, though.
When Hobbs was presented with the woman’s allegations, "he was asked if [the woman] was lying,” the documents state. “He responded, ‘No.’”
Hobbs was most recently working as an English teacher at Patterson Mill High School in Bel Air since July 2018, according to the school system. Prior to that, he had worked at Bel Air Middle School for 20 years. He was hired by HCPS in August 1998.
Harford County schools were made aware of the charges late Wednesday, Lader said, and would be notifying parents and guardians at Patterson Mill High School via the school system’s mass communication system later Thursday evening.
The Baltimore County Police Crimes Against Children Unit is asking anyone who may have been abused by Hobbs to contact detectives by calling 410-307-2020.