The ex-NFL cheerleader and ex-teacher who pleaded guilty to having sex with her 17-year-old student is suing a gossip website for allegedly ruining her reputation. The lawsuit stems from two posts made on The Dirty in 2009. One post included a photo of Jones next to the Cincinnati Bengals team captain, with a caption stating Jones had slept with every member of the team.
A second post, headlined "The Dirty Bengals Cheerleader" had a photo of Jones in a bikini, with a caption stating that she had contracted chlamydia and gonorrhea from an ex who, the site claimed, had cheated on her with more than 50 women.
At the time, Jones was employed as a cheerleader for the Cincinnati Bengals and as a teacher at Dixie Heights High School in Edgewood, Ky.
"As a teacher with those things on the Internet, that I slept with all the Bengals and had two STDs," Jones said in court Wednesday. "I didnít want to face my students."
When the posts were made, Jones had not yet made national headlines for having an affair with her seventeen-year-old student, but The Dirty operator, Hooman Karamian--who goes by the name of Nik Ritchie--argues that, as a cheerleader for an NFL team, she was nevertheless a public figure. In defamation cases, public figures have a higher burden of proof than average citizens would have.
Karamian's attorney, Alex Ward, told the court that Jones having sex with every single one of the Bengals was obviously an exaggeration. Since no reasonable person would believe that, he argued, it does not qualify as defamation. He also stated the claim regarding Jones' boyfriend was simply an opinion, WLWT reported.
David Gingras, another lawyer for Karamian, pointed out the posts were written by an anonymous user, not Karamian. If Jones wins, Gingras says he will appeal the case because the law protects a website publisher from liability for content generated by third parties.
In her defense, Jones asserted she has only had sex with two people. One of those people is her ex-husband, while the other is her former student Cody York.
While Jones claims that the 2009 posts were what ruined her good name, it wasn't until November 2011 that she resigned from her teaching position amid allegations she was involved with York, who was 17 at the time.
Those allegations destroyed Jones' marriage with her high-school sweetheart, Nathan Wilburn. The two filed for an annulment early in 2012 after being married for only six weeks.
In March 2012, Jones was formally charged with first-degree sexual abuse and unlawful use of electronic devices in connection with her relationship with York. In April, she reached a plea agreement with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct and custodial interference, avoiding jail time and sex offender registration.
"I began a romantic relationship while he was a student and I was in a position of authority," she admitted to the court.
Jones and the teen, who by that point was age 18, were still romantically involved and left the courtroom together. York and his family had taken Jones' side throughout the investigation and trial, and had made the prosecution's case "a lot harder" by refusing to provide information.
Jones has since left her position as captain of the Bengals cheerleaders, and as of October, was working as a legal assistant in the office of her defense attorney, Eric Deters.