Justice

ASHLAND -- A former substitute teacher in Ashland County has been convicted of two counts of gross sexual imposition, according to the Ashland County Prosecutor's Office.

The conviction of Thomas Mole, 39, came Friday after a jury trial in Ashland County Common Pleas Court, according to Prosecutor Christopher Tunnell.

Mole was a substitute teacher for various Ashland County school systems through Tri-County Educational Service Center of Wooster, the prosecutor said in an emailed press release.

Mole was indicted by an Ashland County grand jury in March for two counts of gross sexual imposition and a count of tampering with evidence. The state dismissed the tampering with evidence count prior to trial, Tunnell said.

The counts of gross sexual imposition referred to Mole becoming sexually aroused by hugging two sixth-grade students while he was a substitute teacher during the 2018-2019 school year.

Mole admitted to detectives that following his touching of the children, he had to retire to a bathroom to sexually gratify himself. Both students attended the same school and neither was aware of the sexual nature of Mole’s contact with them, Tunnell said.

A jury trial began Dec. 1 with COVID-19 protocols. Testimony began Dec. 2 and witnesses were heard over two days. The jury received the case on Dec. 4 and deliberated just over an hour before finding the defendant guilty. Each count is a felony of the third degree. The Defendant faces a maximum of 10 years, and a prison sentence is mandatory in this case, according to the prosecutor.

Tunnell thanked the Ashland Police Department, members of the school district, and recognized the bravery of the victims who testified at trial.

“There is nothing more sacred than the trust we place in those who are supposed to care for our children. The vast majority of educators are professionals and are appropriately caring for our children. It is vitally important that where predators who seek to do harm to our children are found, that they be rooted out and dealt with appropriately," Tunnell said.

The Ashland County Prosecutor's Office is not identifying the school district or the victims in order to protect the children’s privacy.

A sentencing hearing scheduled Jan. 11 at 10:30 a.m. Upon the court’s acceptance of the guilty verdicts, Tunnell moved to revoke the Mole's bond, which was denied by the court.

Mole remains free on bond pending the conclusion of the sentencing hearing.

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