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When it comes to showing movies in the classroom, most teachers do their best to keep their selections safe - both for the protection of the children and to prevent getting complaints from parents. This probably seems like a pretty reasonable line of thinking, but it's apparently one that a substitute teacher in Columbus, Ohio decided to completely ignore while covering for five periods of Spanish at a public high school. As a result, she's now facing felony charges.
This highly bizarre story comes to us from the Columbus Dispatch, which published an article about a substitute teacher who is now in court for screening the graphic horror movie The ABCs of Death to her students last April. According to the report, Sheila Kearns, 58, was screening the anthology horror film for a large part of the day while teaching at East High School, and was ultimately caught by the school's assistant principal. At that time, Kearns tried to fast-forward the movie, but instead wound up pausing it on a shot feature a topless woman. She is now being charged with five counts of "disseminating matter harmful to juveniles."
In his opening statement defending Sheila Kearns in court, the substitute's defense attorney claimed that his client had her back turned to the screen during all of the showings of the movie, and that she thought the film was in Spanish. The students Kearns was teaching throughout the day ranged between 14 and 18 years old. The newspaper says that each of the charges could result in a year of prison and a fine of $2,500, but probation is also a possibility.
For those unfamiliar with The ABCs of Death, the film was first released in 2012 and is a collection of 26 short films from 26 directors - each one named after a letter from the alphabet (i.e. D is for Dogfight, T is for Toilet). As mentioned earlier, the film is quite graphic in its content, and definitely isn't meant to be seen by children. For a taste of exactly what Sheila Kearns showed to her students, check on the red band trailer below (or don't if you're easily nauseated):
Honestly, I don't really know what to make of this case. How could the substitute make it through five classes of screenings without ever looking at what was being shown? Why did she think it was appropriate for a Spanish class or think that it was a Spanish movie? If she wasn't ever looking at the screen, why did she try and fast-forward the video when the assistant principal walked in. There isn't a ton that adds up here, but it definitely is a fascinating and weird case.