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Harford County teacher sentenced to 18 months after pleading guilty to sexual relationship with student 20 years ago

A Harford County Public Schools teacher was sentenced Thursday to 18 months in the Baltimore County Detention Center after pleading guilty to sex offenses involving a teenage student 20 years ago.

John David Hobbs, 51, of Fallston, pleaded guilty to two counts of a third-degree sex offense Thursday in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

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John David Hobbs, 51, of Fallston, pleaded guilty Thursday to having a sexual relationship with a student when he was a teacher at Bel Air Middle School 20 years ago.
John David Hobbs, 51, of Fallston, pleaded guilty Thursday to having a sexual relationship with a student when he was a teacher at Bel Air Middle School 20 years ago. (Courtesy Baltimore County Police)

Charges of child molestation and second-degree rape were dropped as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. Hobbs also will get credit for time served for the month he spent on pretrial home detention.

The charges were brought after the former student, now 35, reported the assault to investigators at the Harford County Child Advocacy Center in January.

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The woman told investigators Hobbs had sexually abused when Hobbs was her teacher at Bel Air Middle School in 1999 and 2000. Then 14, the woman would babysit for Hobbs and his wife. Baltimore Sun Media does not identify victims of sexual abuse.

Because the abuse occurred at Hobbs' former home in Parkville, the case was turned over to Baltimore County Police.

Hobbs also assaulted the student in his classroom at Bel Air Middle, according to Baltimore County Assistant State’s Attorney Francis Pilarski Jr. However, the Harford County prosecutors agreed not to press charges if Hobbs was sentenced in Baltimore County court, Pilarski said.

The former student told Judge Jan Marshall Alexander that she reported Hobbs after meeting with him and his wife in a library conference room in 2018 to ask Hobbs to get treatment. When he did not do so, she went to police a year later.

Because the abuse happened decades ago, it is unclear if Hobbs will have to register on the National Child Sex Offender Registry. If he does, he will be on the registry for 10 years, prosecutors said.

In a tearful statement, the former student described her damaged relationships, self-destructive behavior and the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder that Hobbs’s abuse continues to inflict on her. When she has flashbacks of her abuse, she said it feels like it is happening all over again.

“Children cannot give consent for a reason,” she said in court Thursday. “You took advantage of my vulnerability and injured me psychologically in ways beyond repair. ... Your job was to nurture my education — not nurture your love for my 14-year-old body.”

The abuse included Hobbs touching her breasts and performing and receiving oral sex, according to court documents. The woman told police she never had intercourse with Hobbs.

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 in January. On that call, the woman reminded Hobbs of their sexual encounters, and Hobbs told her he was sorry, according to court documents.

Hobbs later told police that she also “came onto me," Pilarski said during the plea hearing.

Hobbs most recently worked as an English teacher at Patterson Mill High School. A Harford County Public Schools spokesperson, Jillian Leader, previously said Hobbs was placed on paid administrative leave in February when the school system became aware of the investigation, and put on unpaid leave following his arrest in June.

Harford County schools did not respond Thursday to questions about Hobbs' current employment status.

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Hobbs declined to address the court Thursday. He had faced up to 20 years each in prison for the child molestation and rape charges that were dropped.

He will serve his 18-month sentence in the Baltimore County Detention Center. As the bailiff handcuffed Hobbs, he mouthed “I love you" to his wife and son sitting in the back of the courtroom.

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