Prosecutor calls texts between former teacher, student 'steamy'
Kendall Herold, firstname.lastname@example.org
6:15 AM, Jul 30, 2012
4:32 AM, Jul 31, 2012
COVINGTON, Ky. - Despite evidence released Friday in the case against an ex-Ben-Gal cheerleader and former high school teacher and her mother, the pair was back in court Monday fighting the charges.
Sarah Jones and her mother, Cheryl Jones appeared before Judge Patricia Summe at the Kenton County Justice Center early Monday. Two weeks ago, the pair filed a motion to dismiss the charges against them.
The Jones' attorney, Eric Deters argued the prosecution had no evidence against Sarah or Cheryl.
"There's all kinds of problems in the case," said Deters. "They have no evidence that sexual relations of any type took place in any of the 50 United States of America."
He called the tampering with evidence charge against Cheryl "fraud." Deters told Judge Summe what Cheryl did isn't tampering with evidence.
Deters is also demanding the prosecution be cited in contempt for releasing a text message Sarah allegedly sent to the male student she's accused of having sex with.
The content of the text message was released in a motion filed by special prosecutor Sara Farmer. The motion filed by Farmer was in response to Deters' motion to dismiss charges against the mother and daughter. Farmer says Jones told the victim to "deny everything."
Farmer is the special prosecutor assigned to the case after Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders recused himself from the case.
Assistant Commonwealth Attorney John Balliet set off fireworks in the courtroom with one word he used when he arguing Deters' motion against Farmer.
"Sara Farmer used a text message of two words. It is not one of the steamy texts that was available and could have been used," said Balliet.
Deters said the use of the word "steamy" is enough to taint a jury pool.
"I'm not going to either confirm or deny that there was text messages that were steamy, because again, I think that's a violation of the order. But for a lawyer in open court to say that is incredible, especially when there is a motion pending that relates to that very issue of 'deny everything.'"
Leland Hulbert, the spokesperson for the prosecutor's office, said his office didn't do anything wrong when using the word "steamy."
"Obviously we believe we have evidence and it will be presented in this case and referencing that in court is something that's done in every court or any other," said Hulbert.
The prosecution also filed several motions, including one to put a gag order on the case. Judge Summe told the courtroom she didn't like "secrets," but she's also worried about finding fair jurors for the trial.
On his radio show two weeks ago, Deters claimed the case is based on false statements. He also announced the investigation in the case was sparked from comments made by the victim's ex-girlfriend.
Sarah and Cheryl also appeared on the radio show where they spoke publicly about the case for the first time.
Sarah is accused of having sex with a student while she was an English teacher at Dixie Heights High School in Northern Kentucky.
A Kenton County grand jury indicted Jones in March of first degree sexual abuse and unlawful use of electronic means to induce a minor to engage in sexual or other prohibited activities.
Sarah resigned from her teaching position in November.
"To have these allegations and to have to quit my job that I spent four years of college, you know my heart, soul, ministry — everything into teaching — to give that up, to give up the Cincinnati Ben-Gals that I had been captain of, and had a leadership role with them is very damaging to one's self worth...and the day I resigned, I had completely hit rock bottom," said Sarah in an interview with ABC News after her court appearance Monday.
Cheryl, who was the principal at Twenhofel Middle School in Independence, was indicted for tampering with evidence. She also claimed her innocence, saying she's shocked she was ever indicted in the first place.
"The hardest thing has been not only me going through it, but me having my mom go through it with me. It's almost kind of like a guilty feeling. The guilt that I feel that she is even involved in this, and to have a 35-year career be put on the line and questioned," said Sarah.
The alleged victim's family is supporting the family.
Judge Summe didn't rule on any of the motions heard Monday. She said she would review them and make a decision in coming days.
Sarah's full interview with ABC News will appear on "Good Morning America" starting at 7 a.m. Tuesday.