Despite admitting to sexual relations with “that student,” Sarah Jones – Bengals cheerleader turned high school educator – is continuing with her defamation lawsuit against TheDirty.com. You may be thinking: How the heck can she continue with the lawsuit if she admitted that she slept with a student? Wasn’t that what she was suing over?
And if that question did cross your mind, it’s a fair one. But defamation lawsuits are often nuanced, and Sarah Jones’ is no different. You see, she didn’t just sue over TheDirty.com saying that she had sex with a student; she was suing because the website said she was “promiscuous” and had “STDs.” Another specific claim in her suit is that Richie, himself, posted “Why are high school teachers freaks in the sack” near her photo.
The trial is expected to last two to three days. Nik Richie, founder of TheDirty.com, and Jones’ parents are expected to take the stand, in addition to several other witness being called by the defense, which have yet to be identified by name in the press.
Another interesting factor stemming from Jones’ October 8th guilty plea is whether or not text messages admitted into evidence in her criminal trial can now be used in her civil defamation trial. Lawyers for TheDirty.com want them admitted, but the criminal judge has yet to weigh in on the matter.
This suit has been closely watched since the beginning, when William Bertelsman, a U.S. District judge, ruled that TheDirty.com was not protected under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides a certain level of immunity for websites that rely on user generated content (UGC).
In order to have a shot at winning this case, Jones will most likely have to prove that (a) she was not promiscuous and (b) she does not have STDs. Whether or not Richie’s statement about being “freaky in the sack” is defamatory will be determined by the judge, based on the strengths of each legal teams’ arguments. Now, if witnesses called by the defense testify to Jones’ sexual dalliances, and the jury can be convinced that a reasonable person would consider her to “promiscuous,” then she may lose that battle.
We’ll definitely be keeping our eye on this online defamation lawsuit involving TheDirty.com over the next several weeks. Be sure to check back often to get the latest.