COVINGTON — A Cincinnati Ben-Gals cheerleader was indicted Thursday for allegedly having sex with a student when she was a teacher at Dixie Heights High School.
A Kenton County grand jury indicted Sarah Jones of first-degree sexual abuse, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. She was also indicted on a charge of unlawful use of electronic devices to solicit illegal activity.
In, addition, her mother Cheryl Jones was indicted on a charge of tampering with physical evidence. Cheryl Jones is the principal at Twenhofel Middle School in Independence.
Earlier this decade, lawmakers strengthened Kentucky’s sex abuse laws to make it a felony for a person in authority to have even consensual sexual relations with someone under 18. In all other instances in Kentucky, the age of consent is considered to be 16.
Jones, who couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, resigned Nov. 30 from the Edgewood high school where she taught freshman English. She was 26 years old. Jones cited “personal reasons” in a one-sentence resignation letter.
Jones gained national attention in 2009 when she sued online gossip site TheDirty.com and its operator, Nik Richie, after unflattering pictures of her appeared with allegations that she’d had sex with Bengals players and had two sexually transmitted diseases. The photos and comments had been provided anonymously.
Her case is being watched closely by First Amendment and technology experts after U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman ruled that TheDirty.com and Richie were not shielded from liability. The decision, issued in January, was seen as a departure from numerous other rulings protecting website operators who display defamatory third-party content.
TheDirty.com has appealed to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, and Jones has gone on TV shows from “20/20” to “Anderson Cooper 360” talking about the embarrassment and public scrutiny she faced after the online postings.
Jones claimed the school district had to block the website because so many students were viewing the site on school computers. She said her work email was flooded with crude messages from people who had seen the posts. The high school principal at the time even reviewed security camera footage after one post on the website alleged Jones was having sex in her classroom, The Enquirer reported in August 2010.