Substitute teacher convicted of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles
A former substitute teacher convicted of showing a movie including graphic sex and violence to a high school class was sentenced on Wednesday to 90 days in jail.
Sheila Kearns, who was convicted in January of four felony counts, apologized in court, saying she hadn’t watched the movie before showing it to her Spanish classes at Columbus’ East High School in April 2013. The movie, “The ABCs of Death,” consists of 26 chapters, each depicting some form of grisly death and representing a letter of the alphabet, such as “E is for Exterminate,” ”O is for Orgasm” and “T is for Toilet.”
Kearns, who showed the movie during five periods of the class, was convicted of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles. The Columbus Dispatch reported the judge placed her on probation for three years but made the jail time a condition of probation.
Kearns, 58, contended she was unaware of the movie’s content. Her attorney said she never would have knowingly showed it. But a student testified Kearns watched the 129-minute movie. The student said the movie was “disturbing” and said students in the class went “crazy” while watching it.
An assistant principal who saw the DVD movie playing in the classroom confiscated it. Prosecutors said the movie’s title should have tipped off Kearns that she should check it out before showing it to her students, who ranged in age from 14 to 18.
Jurors watched the movie, which rates 4.7 out of 10 stars on the IMDb website, before convicting Kearns. After the conviction, the jury foreman said it wasn’t proved at trial that Kearns was aware of the movie’s content the first time she showed it but she would have known by the second, third, fourth and fifth showings.