Ex-NFL cheerleader pleads guilty to student sex

A former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader pleaded guilty Monday to

having sex with her 17-year-old former student while she was a

teacher at a northern Kentucky high school, a move that will allow

her to avoid jail time.

In a tearful admission in Kenton County Circuit Court in

Covington, Ky., 27-year-old Sarah Jones pleaded guilty to sexual

misconduct and custodial interference in place of more serious

charges as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.

”I began a romantic relationship while he was a student and I

was in a position of authority,” Jones said, her voice cracking as

her family members wiped their own tears.

Jones said the relationship began in February 2011 when the boy

was 17, saying that the two had sex, that she sent him sexually

explicit text messages and lied about the relationship to

police.

The teen had been in Jones’ freshman English class in 2008, and

she was his peer tutor in 2010 and 2011 before he graduated at the

age of 17 this year, according to Monday’s plea agreement, signed

by Jones.

In accepting the plea agreement, Judge Patricia Summe granted

prosecutors’ recommendation to sentence Jones to five years of

diversion but no jail time, and she won’t have to register as a sex

offender. The diversion requires Jones to report to a probation

officer and undergo drug tests.

Prosecutors said they were willing to make the deal because the

teen, now 18, and his family were uncooperative with them and on

Jones’ side.

”We feel that it is a just and it is a fair result,”

prosecutor Sara Farmer said. ”It’s certainly difficult when a

victim and his family don’t cooperate by not providing information,

but it makes our case a lot harder when they’re actually proactive

for a defendant, and in this case, the family was more than

supportive of the Jones (family). They were proactive for

them.”

Jones had taught at Dixie Heights High School before resigning

last November. She was indicted in March, and her trial had been

set to start Wednesday.

Part of the reason defense attorney Eric Deters said Jones was

willing to plead guilty was because Summe had denied his request to

keep the text messages that she sent to the teen out of the

trial.

”They’re embarrassing,” Deters told reporters after the

hearing. ”They were steamy.”

He also said that now that the teen is 18 years old, he and

Jones ”are free to be together” and pointed out that they left

the courtroom together.

Deters declined to discuss details of their current

relationship, saying that the pair would discuss it on the

”Today” show and ”Dateline” on Friday.

He said that Jones will not try out to be a Bengals cheerleader

in the future, and that for now, she’s working as a legal assistant

in his office.

Jones has expressed interest in becoming a lawyer and is

studying to take the Law School Admission Test, he said.

Before any accusations involving the student surfaced, Jones

drew public attention when she sued a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based

gossip website over a posting dated Dec. 7, 2009, that included her

photo and was headlined ”The Dirty Bengals Cheerleader.” The

posting claimed that Jones’ ex-boyfriend cheated on her with more

than 50 women, contracted chlamydia and gonorrhea, and likely gave

it to her.

Another post on the site, Thedirty.com, accused Jones of having

sex in the classroom and said, ”Why are all high school teachers

freaks in the sack?”

Jones resigned as a teacher at Dixie Heights and from the

Bengals cheer squad in late 2011 after four years with both jobs.

Deters said at the time that she had done nothing wrong and stepped

down because a rumor that she had become involved with a student

became too much.

The lawsuit, which accuses the website and its creator of

defamation and invasion of privacy and seeks $11 million in

damages, was on hold until the criminal case was resolved.

Deters now is asking for a January trial date in the matter.

Jones’ mother, former school principal Cheryl Armstrong Jones,

also pleaded guilty Monday, to a misdemeanor charge of attempted

tampering with evidence. She admitted to the judge that she sent

the teen a text message telling him to get rid of his phone and

also avoided jail time.

Follow Amanda Lee Myers on Twitter at

https://twitter.com/AmandaLeeAP