(EDGEWOOD, Ky.) — Kentucky police are calling a personal foul against a high school teacher who moonlighted as a Cincinnati Ben-Gal. Her offense: having sex with an underage student.
Sarah Jones, 26, was indicted Thursday on charges of first-degree sexual abuse and unlawful use of electronic means to induce a minor to engage in sexual or other prohibited acts. Police say the charges stem from an investigation that began in November at Dixie Heights High School in Edgewood, Ky.
“We were made aware of allegations of inappropriate relations between a teacher and an underage student at the school,” said Edgewood Police Chief Anthony Kramer. “We have been conducting an investigation since that time.”
Jones, a former freshman English teacher at the high school and current cheerleader for the Cincinnati Bengals, stepped down from her position at the school in November after the investigation began, citing “personal reasons.”
The grand jury also handed down a federal charge against Jones’ mother, Cheryl Jones, for allegedly tampering with physical evidence in her daughter’s case. Both Jones and her mother refused to comment, but Tim Jones, Cheryl’s husband and Sarah’s father, said the family was shocked by the charges against his wife.
“This just happened yesterday, so there has been no time for us to prepare,” Tim Jones said. “We don’t even know what [Cheryl’s] charges consist of, so it’s impossible for us to comment.” Tim Jones said the family had no comment on the charges his daughter is facing.
Dr. Terri Cox-Cruey, superintendent for the Kenton County School District, said Cheryl Jones, principal at Twenhofel Middle School in Independence, Ky., was placed on administrative leave after Thursday’s indictment. She said the central office is cooperating with police, but are not conducting a separate, internal investigation.
“We were notified in November about the allegation against Miss Jones, but were surprised by the charge against her mother,” Cox-Cruey said. “As teachers, there is a certain code of ethics, and it is very uncommon for teachers to break that standard. We will have to wait to see how the details of the investigation unfold before I can comment on what her position will be with the school.”
But this isn’t Sarah Jones’s first appearance in a Kentucky courtroom. In 2010, Jones sued TheDirty.com for defamation of character after a photo of her and former Bengals kicker Shayne Graham appeared on the gossip website, along with comments that Jones had a sexually transmitted disease and had had sex in her classroom. Jones said she emailed the site multiple times, pleading with them to take down the photo.
“To stand in front of 30 15-year-olds and tell them you don’t have STDs and that you are not a slut is the hardest thing you will ever have to do,” she told ABC News’ Chris Cuomo in a 20/20 interview.
A federal judge in Kentucky awarded Jones an $11 million default judgment for defamation in the case, but litigation is scheduled to continue June 4 in Covington, Ky.
An arraignment for both Sarah and Cheryl Jones is scheduled for Monday. If convicted, the women could spend at least five years in prison for each charge.
A representative from the Bengals organization could not be reached for comment.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jeanne Sahadi, CNN
Ralph Ellis and Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN