COVINGTON, Ky. - An ex-Bengals cheerleader and schoolteacher who is suing an Internet gossip site for defamation testified Monday, giving new details about her much-publicized relationship with a high school student.
In the first day of the retrial, Sarah Jones was asked about her sexual history and whether she ever had any sexually transmitted diseases.
Jones is suing website owner Nik Richie over two anonymous posts in 2009 that claimed she had sex with various Bengals players and had two STDs. The posts were untrue and caused Jones mental anguish, she testified in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Covington.
The first trial against Richie and TheDirty.com ended with a hung jury in January.
The website operator's attorney says his client is not guilty of malice for posting the anonymous submissions.
The posts were unrelated to the former high school teacher's 2012 guilty plea to charges she had sex with an underage ex-student.
Under questioning, Jones accused Richie of "cyber-bullying" by refusing to delete the posts from his website, even after emailing him 27 times to tell him they were untrue.
"By putting it up there and keeping it up there after I told him it wasn't true, he is owning it, in my opinion," Jones said.
Jones, 28, of Independence, said she only has had two sexual partners: her now ex-husband, Nathan Wilburn, and her current boyfriend, Cody York.
York was 17 and a student at Dixie Heights High School in Crestview Hills when their sexual relationship began in November 2011. At the time, Jones taught at the school although York was not one of her students.
Jones testified that her family and York's were longtime friends, and she had known York for years.
"I saw him outside of school. In school, I never saw him," she said. "He never thought of me as a teacher."
Instead, Jones and York's friendship grew more intimate as he consoled her about the separation and divorce from Wilburn, Jones said.
Jones and Wilburn had dated since they were teenagers, and the pair married in July 2011. But Jones left Wilburn in late August 2011 and they were divorced a year later.
In her testimony, Jones alleged Wilburn was emotionally and physically abusive toward her. Wilburn forced Jones to sleep on the floor on several occasions and regularly abused alcohol, cocaine and steroids, she added.
"I knew the entire time of our relationship we shouldn't be together. I felt stuck," Jones said. "I was nervous to leave him. He was very threatening."
Once school officials learned of Jones' relationship with York, Jones pleaded guilty in 2012 to sexual misconduct and custodial interference. In a deal with prosecutors, Jones was sentenced to five years of probation but no jail time, and she doesn't have to register as a sex offender.
Nevertheless, Jones said her and York's parents both support their relationship despite the eight-year age difference. Jones is now engaged to York, who will turn 19 in August.
Richie's attorney questioned Jones' credibility, noting she never mentioned having a relationship with York during interviews she did with national media in 2011 about her defamation case.
But Jones countered that she never lied under oath and never had sex with York in Kenton County, where the high school is located.
"I did not lure Cody to have sex with me," Jones testified.
Also, Jones said she has never had gonorrhea and chlamydia, as alleged on the website. She did contract hepatitis A when she was 12, through using an inhaler that was tainted.
When Richie's attorney asked Jones if the ailment qualified as an STD, she replied, "I think there is a huge difference between hepatitis A and gonorrhea and chlamydia."
Jones will continue her testimony Tuesday morning, and the trial is expected to conclude Wednesday.