A former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader and high school teacher accused of having sex with a 16-year-old male student will be allowed to sue a website for defamation after they branded her a 'slut with two STDs', a court has ruled.
Sarah Jones, 26, has brought a lawsuit against the gossip website TheDirty.com after photographs and postings were uploaded in 2009.
Posts claimed she had sex with a boyfriend in her classroom at Dixie Heights High School in Edgewood, Kentucky. She said the claims cost her reputation with colleagues at the school.
When she emailed the site to plead they take photographs down, more posts appeared claiming she had had sex with Bengals players.
Appearing on ABC at the time, she said: 'To stand in front of 30 15-year-olds and tell them you don't have two STDs and that you are not a slut is the hardest thing you will ever have to do.'
Jones sued Nik Richie, TheDirty.com’s founder, for character defamation. She was awarded an $11million default judgement but the litigation is ongoing.
Judge William Bertelsman at the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided yesterday that the website could not appeal the decision that it was liable to Jones. TheDirty.com had hoped it would be shielded by the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA) because it had merely posted information written by others.
However the website's lawyer David Gingras told Cincinnati.com that the court's decision 'is not the result I wanted to see, but it is actually a disaster for Jones'. Mr Gringas said he planned to grill Jones about the sexual allegations against her. Jones was accused of sleeping with a 16-year-old football player while teaching in a Kentucky school last year.
She resigned from her job teaching high school English in November citing 'personal reasons'. Her estranged husband has chosen to file for an annulment.
Jones, a five-year veteran of the Ben-Gals cheerleading squad, was indicted in Covington, Kentucky on charges of first-degree sexual abuse last month. The indictment states the alleged sexual relationship with the high school student took place between October 1 and December 31.
She pleaded not guilty to unlawful use of electronic means to induce a minor to engage in sexual activities, a charge often reserved for people peddling child pornography over the Internet.
Her mother Cheryl, 55, a middle school principal who is now on administrative leave, faces a single charge of tampering with evidence in her daughter's case. She also pleaded not guilty in April.
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