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Substitute teacher accused of fondling himself in class is mentally disabled, his attorney claims

'How would we know that?’ says school services
Posted at 3:46 PM, Mar 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-01 15:57:26-05

The substitute teacher who admitted fondling himself in a Fairfield classroom is mentally disabled and his statements to police should not be admissible in court, his attorney claims.

Tracey J. Abraham, 41, of Cincinnati, was arrested on Jan. 8 after he admitted during a police interview to “fondling himself” at Creekside Middle School. However, his attorney filed a motion claiming Abraham’s right to not self-incriminate was violated, the Journal-News reported.

“Mr. Abraham was unable to comprehend, process and perceive the charges being alleged,” attorney Louis Sirkin said in a motion filed Wednesday with Fairfield Municipal Court.

“He further was not only unable to understand the ‘Miranda rights’ but he was not capable to intelligently waive the rights.”

Sirkin said he plans to present evidence that will show Abraham has been mentally disabled since birth, and recently scored a 70 on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale.

“He further scored extremely low in ‘perceptual reasoning’ and ‘processing speed,’” Sirkin said.

When asked if Warren County Education Services Center knew if Abraham had a mental disability, Superintendent Tom Isaacs said, “How would we know that?”

Abraham was one of about 1,100 substitute teachers used in Butler and Warren county schools, and Isaacs said they do receive regular complaints about subs. But not about Abraham.

“Typically the complaints are they were tardy, or they didn’t show up for work,” he said. “(Abraham) never had a single complaint about him.”

Once he was taken into custody, Abraham was “interrogated” by Fairfield police officers for nearly two hours and was “rapidly read his Miranda rights and was asked to sign a constitutional rights waiver,” according to Sirkin’s motion.

“Mr. Abraham complied while expressing doubt as to why he had been taken into custody and why he was being interrogated.”

Sirkin’s motion also indicates Abraham’s treating psychologist will testify about his mental capabilities.

“He has an extreme desire to please and may respond to please the interviewer. Moreover, he is extremely sensitive to what he perceives as criticism resulting in an inability to understand what is being asked,” according to the motion presumably from Abraham’s treating psychologist.

Abraham’s mental disabilities were never revealed during the police investigation, and they were never revealed during his several years as a substitute teacher in Butler and Warren counties.

The Journal-News previously reviewed Abraham’s personnel file, which is maintained at the Education Services Center, and it shows he passed Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation background checks. The Ohio Department of Education also licensed him. Substitute teachers are required to have a four-year degree.

Isaacs said staff at each school building is responsible for finding their substitute teachers, and Abraham was a sub at dozens of schools in both counties.

“That indicates to me that a lot of people didn’t know" about Abraham's claimed disability, Isaacs said.

Abraham was charged with public indecency, a first-degree misdemeanor, after a resource officer at Creekside received several complaints that he allegedly was fondling himself while students were in the classroom. Students observed him, according to a video recorded by a 13-year-old female student. No students were physically involved in the alleged act.

Abraham told police he was looking at explicit images on his cell phone while fondling himself outside his pants and admitted he “fondled himself four or five times over the course of an hour,” according to the police report. He was never exposed, police said.

Fairfield Assistant Prosecutor Patrick Oelrich plans to oppose Sirkin’s motion. Fairfield Municipal Court Judge Joyce Campbell will consider the motion on March 21.