With the George Zimmerman trial still happening and the Aaron Hernandez courtroom drama looming for 2014, another case of somewhat lower profile returns to the halls of justice today in Covington, Kentucky.
Former Bengals cheerleader Sarah Jones sued TheDirty.com for defamation based on certain things posted at the website in 2009 regarding Jones’ alleged sexual proclivities with Bengals players and students at the high school where she taught. Jones later pleaded guilty to having sex with a student at Dixie Heights High School.
Jones and the victim, Cody York, currently are engaged to be married.
The first time the case went to trial, a jury was unable to reach a verdict. Of the 10 jurors, one or two resisted finding in the plaintiff’s favor.
“The hangup everybody couldn’t get past was her criminal side of her life, which really had nothing to do with this case,” juror Debra Spencer told FOX News, via WCPO-TV. “There was a couple that couldn’t get beyond it and that she lied.”
Former Bengals kicker Shayne Graham appears on Jones’ list of potential witnesses. His testimony was recorded via a pre-trial deposition, which may be played for the jury. Graham, according to the witness disclosure, is expected “to deny the allegations posted by the Defendants.”
Adding to the intrigue is a fairly public pissing match among some of the key players. Jones is represented by Eric Deters, who once claimed after questioning former Bengals receiver Chad Johnson in a different matter than Johnson has “the mental agility of a small soap dish.” And Deters has called Nik Richie, owner of TheDirty.com a “scuzzball” and vowed to “finish him off at the retrial.” Richie has vowed to never pay Jones a dime, and he has taunted Deters for a recent 60-day suspension from the Kentucky Supreme Court. (Deters is able to handle this trial because he’s appealing the decision.)
While the goal of every civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages is to collect as much money as possible (and anyone who says otherwise is lying), Deters recently said that his primary goal is to run TheDirty.com out of business.
“We specifically asked the jury at her last trial for whatever the jury wanted to give her: $50,000 on up to whatever amount they thought would bankrupt the site, whatever they thought,” Deters said.
But here’s the biggest potential problem arising from the Robin Hood realities of the civil justice system. Even if the jury wants to take money away from the defendant, the jury has to feel good about giving it to the plaintiff. Given that the plaintiff in this specific case pleaded guilty to having sex with a student while working as a teacher, it’s going to be difficult to get anyone to be willing to give her a significant award, even if the jury finds that she was indeed defamed.