Bond reduced for ex Ben-Gal, mother

COVINGTON, Ky. - An ex-Ben-Gal cheerleader and former teacher -- plus her career educator mother -- are scheduled to stand trial June 27 in a case that involves alleged sexual abuse of a student and an attempt to cover it up.

That was the ruling Monday from Kenton Circuit Court Judge Patricia Summe after a hearing in the case of Sarah and Cheryl Jones. Judge Summe also changed the terms of the bonds for the Independence women.

Sarah Jones formerly taught at Dixie Heights High School and is accused of having sex with a student. She was once a member of the cheerleading squad for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Cheryl Jones is on leave as Principal of Twenhofel Middle School in Taylor Mill. She is charged with evidence tampering in the case.

Defense attorney Charles Lester asked for the hearing to see if he could further reduce the bonds of his clients.

When the charges were first filed, Sarah's bond was $50,000 cash and Cheryl's $30,000 cash. That was lowered to $15,000 each, but each woman was ordered to be put on electronic monitoring, forbidden from having any contact with the alleged victim or his family and told to disable the texting feature of their cellphone.

Lester filed a brief to support his request by listing bonds in many other criminal cases including those involving schools and sexual abuse -- Covington Catholic High School, Dayton High School and Highlands High School in Fort Thomas.

Some of the cases cited occurred in Judge Summe's courtroom, but the judge strongly cautioned Lester against drawing erroneous conclusions from the list.

"The attorneys in here can tell you that if you have anything that deals with children in a sex offense, everybody's on a monitor," she said.

"I understand, your honor," replied Lester.

Judge Summe answered by saying, "You bought to the court that somehow the court was treating people differently and I want everybody to be really up front. I don't do that."

However, when the $5,000 bond set by Campbell Circuit Judge Fred Stine in the case of former Highlands High School teacher Andrea Conners, she softened her stance.

"Duly noted," Judge Summe told Lester before she announced her new bonds.

For Sarah, it's $10,000 cash, she remains on electronic monitoring, can't have any contact with the alleged victim or his family and must disable the texting feature on her cell phone.

Cheryl's cash bond was dropped to $2,500 and she was taken off electronic monitoring. However, she too must stay away from the alleged victim and his family, plus she must disable her cellphone's texting feature.

Assistant Jefferson County Commonwealth Attorney Sara Farmer is prosecuting the case due to potential conflicts of interest with personnel from the Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney's office.

She didn't dispute the changed bonds.

"The prosecution gives great deference to the court in this matter and we are leaving it to the court's discretion," Farmer told Judge Summe.

Asked outside the courtroom if she had anything to say or if she was aware of any plea deal in the case, Cheryl said, "I'm not going to make any comment now. Thank you."

Farmer said it's not appropriate to comment on a possible plea bargain.

"Our next date is June 27 and we'll be prepared for trial at that point," she said.

She also repeated her contention that the Commonwealth's case is substantial.

"We filed over 9,000 pages of discovery so far," she added.

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