A Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader and her mother were in court Monday in connection with allegations that the cheerleader had sex with a student.
Sarah Jones, 26, was indicted last week on charges of first-degree sexual abuse and unlawful use of electronic devices for illegal activities.The indictment against Jones alleges that she had a sexual relationship with a senior at Dixie Heights High School, where she was a teacher until she resigned last November.Jones' mother was also indicted. Cheryl Jones faces a single charge of tampering with evidence. Cheryl Jones is the principal at Twenhofel Middle School and was placed on paid administrative leave, according to Dixie Heights Superintendent Terri Cox-Cruey.The two held hands as they approached the defense table ahead of their hearing Monday. They pleaded not guilty.
Attorney Charles Lester Jr. told Judge Patricia Summe that the alleged victim's family was in court to support Jones.
Summe lowered the bond to $15,000 for each woman. Both women will wear electronic monitoring bracelets as a condition of their release.
A pre-trial date was set for June 11, with the trial scheduled for June 27.
National media outlets, such as NBC's TODAY and "Inside Edition," were also in court. TODAY highlighted the case on its broadcast Monday morning.Jones resigned from her teaching job in November, citing personal reasons, shortly after the allegations came to light. She denied that anything happened."The student denies it. The parents of the student are upset that this has gone where it has gone. They don't have anything bad to say about Sarah. Sarah denies it," attorney Eric Deters said in December. "There's no victim. There's nobody saying 'Hey, this happened.'"
Deters is not currently Jones' attorney because he was suspended last month for ethics violations. He will take over the case when the suspension is lifted on April 24.
Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders will not be prosecuting the case because he had been sued by Deters, though the case was dismissed. A special prosecutor from Jefferson County will handle the case, Sanders said.Cheryl Jones "was at work when she learned what happened with the grand jury," Cox-Cruey said. "She will be on leave until we can monitor the situation and see what actions we need to take."
Cox-Cruey said she was surprised to hear about the indictments. She said she only learned of the allegations against Sarah Jones when police began investigating last November.
"The day the police openly investigated, that was the same day she submitted her resignation," Cox-Cruey said. "No parents or students ever approached me in all the years she worked for the district with any concern."
"It's just surprising, it's sad. That's all I can say right now," said Dixie Heights track coach Erin Leeper. "I just pray for the families and hope everything gets worked out the right way."
Melissa Boyers said she and her daughter, Mayrah, have known Cheryl Jones since Mayrah was a baby.
"I think she's great, and she's always nice to us and fair," said Twenhofel Middle School student Mayrah Boyers."I can't say she's guilty or not, but if it was my daughter and there was any kind of evidence out there, I'd try my best to get rid of it. I would," Melissa Boyers said."Sarah has maintained her innocence. The indictment of her mother is completely baseless. Cheryl Jones did not tamper with evidence," Lester said in a news release.Sarah Jones won a libel suit against a website over articles it published in 2010, but that case is still pending an appeal.