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October 8, 2012

Would any prosecutors throw challenge flag for plea deal cut for sexual misconduct with student?

Though the MLB playoff have me in more of a baseball mood this week, I cannot avoid this football-related AP story about a notable plea deal struck by a former NFL cheerleader.  The story is headlined "Ex-Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader pleads guilty to having sex with former high school student," and here are excerpts:

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.”...

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....

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.

As the question in the title of this post suggests, I am curious to know if any prosecutors (or others) are troubled by this plea deal.  Because this story gives me little reason to suspect that the defendant here poses any serious threat to the public, I am not especially troubled she was able to cut a sweet plea deal and has appearances now slated for the "Today" show and "Dateline."  But perhaps others have a different take on this matter.

October 8, 2012 at 07:25 PM | Permalink


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Why not give her a sweet deal. They know she really didn't damage the man. They also know that the follow up illegal punishment will be a hell of a lot more punishment than she will get from the court.

As for the stipulation she won't have to register. Good luck with that lie. probaby something in the area of 40-50% of those now registered were convicted before the registry law even existed. The febs are now demanding even children who's convictions predate the awa law register....

So yep good luck with that.

Posted by: rodsmith | Oct 8, 2012 7:35:40 PM

As some might recall, I was in the minority (and in the minds of many rather deluded) for thinking that a teacher should get anything if the student here was of legal age even if it was not just one student, but five.

The judgment here is fine with me, particularly with one student involved & problems with proving the case w/o the student's involvement though lying to the police and as to the mother (former school principal Cheryl Armstrong Jones) "attempted tampering with evidence" doesn't seem as totally trivial. And, the fact he was 17 might matter if 18 is the local age of consent though "sexual misconduct and custodial interference" is so vague that maybe her being a teacher is the test there.

But, I guess if the student was 18, even this would be outrageous to many here given that earlier discussion. For some, even this plea deal probably is outrageous, since any criminal action (the lying and evidence might cloud things a tad) is wrong in such a situation regarding "men" of 17. I wonder what the line is there. "Men" of 16? 15? "Women" students of 17 having sex with male teachers? Ten year age differences might matter to some there.

Anyway, good luck with the legal career Ms. Jones.

Posted by: Joe | Oct 8, 2012 8:05:50 PM

She can't be a teacher anymore, and the prosecution was being conducted against the wishes of the victim. I probably wouldn't have brought charges in the first place if (a) I were convinced she couldn't be a teacher for say, 25 years, and (b) the "victim" didn't want it.

Joe, you sure do use a lot of words to say not a whole lot.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 8, 2012 8:27:33 PM

Something tells me, federalist, that you wouldn't put the word "victim" in quotes (implying, of course, that you do not believe that the then-child here was a victim) if the case involved a male teacher and a 17-year-old female student. The double standard in cases like this confounds me.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 8, 2012 11:31:43 PM

Geez, I'm a RSO, on the list for life for "fondling a 14-year old gir's breasts." After an exemplary military career and support from my victim and ex-wife, I still got life on the list and 10 years supervised probation. I guess if I was a cheerleader it would have been ok. Talk about double standard and gender bias in sentencing....
By the way - I still punish myself every day for the stupid thing I did. In counseling, I'm told I should "forgive myself." Not gonna happen.

Posted by: Oswaldo | Oct 9, 2012 12:05:33 AM

This case is entirely pretextual. It is a false case to show false piety, that the vile feminist lawyer prosecutes females as well as male predators.

In the real world, the victim was a full adult, in every dimension one can describe. No harm took place, but rather a benefit. How can a crime result in a benefit to the victim and remain a crime? Only in the upside down, Twilight Zone of the feminist lawyer is adulthood at age 18, a landmark of nothing.

Meanwhile the vile feminist lawyer is allowing 90% of violent crime to go unanswered. Their pals, the repeat violent offenders, cannot even be verbally criticized without losing one's job for verbal abuse. This case is sickening because serial killers and violent rapists are being given a total pass by this lawyer feminist. Millions of violent crimes each year are going unanswered by these irresponsible, vile, sicko, feminist internal traitors to the public safety. They need to resign or be removed. The prosecutor is an at will employee and deserves to be fired immediately. If the judge is elected, get rid of the feminist incompetent.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 9, 2012 12:39:17 AM

Anon. I agree with you about federalist and it's where I disagree with Doug. In the abstract, viewed in isolation, I don't disagree with this sentence or deal. But viewed in the larger context of a sexual double standard it's repugnant and offensive to all rational minds.

Posted by: Daniel | Oct 9, 2012 1:26:54 AM

Thank you for the “(others)” .

I resist the temptation to ask “Where were those cheerleaders when I was 17 ? I joined the USAR at age 17.3 .

I’ve no problem with the deal and argue that the same type deal be offered were the genders reversed .

Posted by: Anon. #3.14159 | Oct 9, 2012 5:28:43 AM

Daniel et al. concerned about a "sexual double standard":

I often blog about these types of cases because it often appears that older women who are involved sexually with teen boys get more lenient sentencing treatment than older men involved with underage teen girls. However, given that teen girls can get pregnant --- and perhaps may even be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term depending on a state's abortion rules and restrictions --- I question the bold assertion that a "sexual double standard [is] repugnant and offensive to all rational minds."

Beyond the biological fact that teen girls may have their bodies impacted by sexual activity differently than teen boys, there is also the social reality that the vast majority of sex offenders are men, and I suspect the statistics concerning REPEAT sex offenders are even more disproportionately male. Ergo, if you are utilitarian and concerned about crime rates, rather than just a retributivist seeking to achieve some Kantian vision of just punishment, then I also see another non-repugnant basis for asserting that a double standard here may be quite rational.

I have mixed feelings about whether and how these biological and social facts about gender and sexual activity ought to be operationalized through modern sentencing systems. But I think trite assertions about the importance of gender equality fails to recognize the possibility that making a distinction between genders at sentencing in some settings can be rational, if not always justified.

Posted by: Doug B. | Oct 9, 2012 9:50:57 AM

Doug, I am in full agreement with your comment.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 9, 2012 12:29:00 PM

When the genders become equal, I'll support gender equality. Until then, I'll join Doug and federalist.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 9, 2012 1:05:11 PM

Let's be clear here.

Given equal control dynamics as well as consent levels, you would punish the woman less for having sex with her 17 year old male student than a man who would have sex with his 17 year old female student?

Let's be clear: If the teacher were to be with a 17 year old NON-student (in Ohio), it would be a legal encounter, so presumably the same risk of pregnancy would apply given your inclination to throw pregnancy into the mix. However, keep in mind the mental components are also in play here, and in fact is what prosecutors use more than pregnancy risks. But I suspect there is more of a desire to punish male adults than to prevent abuse by all sexes in the first place, which I find more prevalent no matter what sex offender venue applies.

Posted by: Eric Knight | Oct 9, 2012 3:52:33 PM

I've said it before. Anyone who sees what happened here as a crime and the student as a victim is either (a) a female fixated on equality to the point of lunacy (b) a male who's forgotten what it's like to be 17 (or 16 or 15 for that matter) or (c) a prosecutor who isn't very good at knowing when to move on to more important things.

Posted by: John K | Oct 9, 2012 4:25:51 PM

Bottom line: I do not want to mince words nor slice opinions. I would like valid, above board answers with reasons here.

Does everyone believe that, given IDENTICAL statutory crime situations for men and women over minor males and females (opposite sex), that the adult male should incur a greater punishment than the adult female?

If the answer is YES, then please tell me why. This is critical for many reasons. I appreciate it.

Posted by: Eric Knight | Oct 11, 2012 1:54:00 PM

It's not particularly consistent with sentencing law or policy in this country, but I think the post-offense attitude of the victim and victim's family should play an enormous role here. The fact that they are still together speaks volumes. I would feel almost the same way if they were not still together, but the "victim" did not want prosecution.

The reason for scare quotes around "victim" is that nothing here suggests that the "victim" or his family feel they were harmed in any way.

I would feel the same way with a male teacher and a near-adult female student.

Posted by: William Jockusch | Oct 12, 2012 10:36:08 AM

I don't care to get into a huge debate over the differences between the sexes and adult/near adult sex. Ultimately, it boils down to whether you believe that the law can or should take into consideration the differences between genders.

I happen to think that there are differences.

In this particular case, the victim doesn't seem to care at all. Since this is not a crime that will likely be repeated and since the prosecution would harm the victim, my guess is that the prosecution has other things that it could be doing.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 13, 2012 10:14:01 AM

The law is the law as written. It makes no differentiation between male or female offenders. But lets take this issue to it's core level. Teacher should not have sex with students, period. That cannot be disputed. If a teacher CHOOSES to have sex with his or her student then they are breaking the law and it's tenants should be applied without preference or prejudice.
What is happening in this country at an alarming rate is the disconnection or divorcing of one from owning the consequence of their choices. Too often we hear pleas for sympathy when someone makes a poor choice. This case is an example of that. Sarah Jones lied on national television to her family and friends and everyone watching and expects understanding. She states "you don't know the real me". On the contrary Ms Jones you are well known and join the list of those who show no need to be responsible or own your actions. It is amazing to me personally that anyone would defend what you have done and additionally continue to call your a friend.

Posted by: Mike | Oct 17, 2012 5:09:10 PM

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