Ohio Teacher Gets Felony Convictions for Showing Graphic Movie in Class

AP/The Columbus Dispatch, Chris Russell
AP/The Columbus Dispatch, Chris Russell
Columbus, OH

A former high school substitute teacher in Ohio has been convicted of four counts of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles by showing movies featuring graphic violence and explicit sex scenes.

In 2013, authorities at Columbus, Ohio’s East High School caught substitute teacher Sheila Kearns showing the movie The ABC’s of Death. The movie was immediately confiscated and an investigation begun.

The low-rated movie, a 2012 anthology made up of 26 short horror vignettes by directors from 15 different countries, features explicit sex scenes and graphic horror stories. The theme of the film follows the alphabet with the title for the first story starting with the letter “A” and each additional story taking the next letter in the alphabet.

Kearns was charged with knowingly showing an explicit movie to her students but denied that she was aware of how hardcore the movie really was.

During the trial, several kids testified that the classroom was “going crazy” during the movie, and some felt it was “disturbing.”

A jury agreed that the teacher was not initially aware of how graphic the movie was, but after viewing the film themselves, jurors still found her guilty of exposing the kids to inappropriate content.

One juror told the Columbus Dispatch that watching the movie was “challenging” and that “nobody enjoyed it” in the jury room.

Further, investigators said that the teacher didn’t seem very concerned when confronted about the movie.

Lolita Perryman, a detective from the Columbus Police Division’s exploited children’s unit, said that Kearns dismissed the film saying, “Those kids see worse than that at home.”

Judge Charles Schneider set sentencing for March 4. Kearns will likely get probation for this first offense but could get a maximum of 1 year in prison and a $2,500 fine.

The substitute teacher was fired from the school district in June of 2013.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com.