Nationals

Blogger contests ex-cheerleader's libel suit

Blogger contests ex-cheerleader's libel suit

COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) A gossip website operator defended himself Wednesday against a defamation lawsuit by arguing that a former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader featured in posts on the site is a public figure.

Hooman Karamian, who goes by the name Nik Richie, testified in a northern Kentucky courtroom that cheerleader Sarah Jones was on national television and participated in community events because of the high-profile job. Public figures trying to prove defamation have a higher burden than people who aren't in the public eye.

Richie, 33, also said his Scottsdale, Ariz.-based website, thedirty.com, is similar to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in the way it features user content. Richie has said the two posts cited in Jones' lawsuit included text and photos submitted by people who knew her.

``My position is freedom of speech, and people are entitled to their own opinion,'' Richie testified. ``This is America.''

Jones, a onetime teacher who pleaded guilty to having sex with her 17-year-old former student, is suing Richie and the website over two posts in 2009 that were unrelated to her relationship with the teen.

Her attorney, Eric Deters, is arguing that the posts tarnished her reputation as a teacher and Bengals cheerleader before she ever had a relationship with the teen, causing her severe emotional distress.

Jones, 27, testified Wednesday before Richie took the stand that the posts were devastating.

In the first post in October 2009, Jones is pictured smiling for the camera with a former kicker for the Bengals. The caption says she had sex with every member of the team.

The second showed her in a bikini from one of the Bengals calendars. It claimed that her ex-husband contracted chlamydia and gonorrhea after cheating on her with more than 50 women, and that he likely gave it to her.

Richie, who lives in Orange County, Calif., with his wife and 1-year-old daughter, said in an interview last week that the comments came from someone who knew Jones and had access to photos she posted on Facebook. He said the only thing he wrote about Jones was in the second post, saying, ``Why are all high school teachers freaks in the sacks?''

``As a teacher with those things on the Internet, that I slept with all the Bengals and had two STDs, I didn't want to face my students,'' Jones said Wednesday, adding that she had to tell all her classes that the posts were untrue.

Under questioning from Richie's attorney, Jones testified that she kept both jobs after the posts and that no one who knew her believed they were true.

Richie's attorney, Alexis Mattingly, showed jurors glossy calendar photos of Jones wearing bikinis and reminded them that Jones lied to police, her family and her bosses about her relationship with the teenager.

She also read the jurors text messages between Jones and the teen and transcripts of her interviews with police, all in an effort to attack her credibility and character.

Jones has said repeatedly that she has only had sex with two people, her former husband and the teenager.

Jones pleaded guilty in October to having sex with the teen under an agreement that let her avoid jail time. The two are still together.

Jones resigned from Dixie Heights High School and from the Bengals cheer squad in late 2011 after four years in both jobs. Deters said at the time that Jones had done nothing wrong but stepped down because of rumors about her relationship with the teen.

Testimony in the defamation trial is expected to wrap up Thursday and will include footage of Richie from an appearance on ``The Dr. Phil Show. The jury could reach a verdict as early as the afternoon.

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Follow Amanda Lee Myers on Twitter athttps://twitter.com/AmandaLeeAP

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Can Nationals’ key six make it through three more wins?

Can Nationals’ key six make it through three more wins?

HOUSTON -- Going 1-0 is taxing.

Ask the Nationals pitchers. Just make sure to talk with the select few being used. 

Washington is trying to finish a World Series win behind six pitchers. Maybe six-and-a-half, at most seven, if Tanner Rainey and Fernando Rodney are included. No matchup guys. No bullpen depth. Just a formula of tying the yoke to one of four starters that day, then Daniel Hudson and Sean Doolittle when necessary.

The question is if those six people can make it through three more wins.

A few things have made this approach viable. One is the starting rotation being populated with guys accustomed to a lot of innings. Washington finished with two of the top five in innings pitched this year (Stephen Strasburg at No. 2 and Patrick Corbin at No. 5), in addition to Max Scherzer, who routinely leads the league in innings pitched. Another is a willingness to accept varied roles and workload in the bullpen. The idea of a “closer” has been tossed outside. A person to obtain key outs is inserted into the game at the most crucial -- and beneficial -- time. 

“I think it’s Huddy,” Sean Doolittle said when asked why the bullpen has worked this way. “I think when you have an anchor like that at the back of the bullpen, it kind of lets guys slide into certain spots in front of him. And when he can go multiple innings and come in early in the game with runners on base -- that’s tough. Not a lot of guys who pitch in that closer’s role are comfortable doing that. But he has experience pitching in so many different roles, he brings that versatility to our group.”

Corbin has helped. He came out of the bullpen again Tuesday to wipe three more outs away and help the Nationals earn a 1-0 series lead. He appears likely to start Game 4 in Nationals Park after pitching his “bullpen session” in Game 1 of the World Series. Among the questions for Corbin, and Davey Martinez, is if Corbin is available for one out Wednesday night in Game 2. Picture left-handed Michael Brantley up with two runners on base and two out in the seventh inning. Brantley’s career OPS against left-handed pitchers is 125 points lower than it is against right-handed pitchers. Martinez said he would speak to Corbin late Monday to see what’s next.

Doolittle was already prognosticating after Game 1. Tomorrow may always be just a day away, but it might as well not exist in this current formula.

“Regardless of the score, the situation, I think we all expected to be in there in some capacity,” Doolittle said. “And I think guys are willing to go multiple innings -- we’ll figure tomorrow out tomorrow. Stras is going to give us a good start and we feel good about having him out there, and he’s going to go as long as he can. We’ll piece it together after that. I think that’s how we’ve thought about it here for a while.”

And, is there enough juice for the six pitchers to handle the current day, eventually turning “tomorrow” into a parade?

“Oh my gosh,” Doolittle said. “Are you kidding me? YES. Yes. We just had a few days off. Us old guys got to put our feet up and rest a little bit. Then we had a couple really good workouts before we came down here. But, at this point in the season, you’re feeding off adrenaline so much. We’re all a little bit tired, sure. Not a lot of guys have been here before. This is the latest they’ve ever played. But when you’re out there, there’s so much adrenaline, there’s so much energy you’re just feeding off that so much. I think we are absolutely in a good spot physically and mentally for the rest of the series.”

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Legendary gymnast Simone Biles to throw the first pitch for Game 2 of the World Series

Legendary gymnast Simone Biles to throw the first pitch for Game 2 of the World Series

Gymnastics legend Simon Biles is scheduled to throw the first pitch for Game 2 of the World Series in Houston, Major League Baseball announced.

Biles, a Houston native, won four gold medals and one bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She won the most gold medals as a female gymnast at a single Olympics in American history and became the fifth-ever quadruple gold medalist in women's gymnastics at a single Olympics.

This isn't Biles's first time at Minute Maid Park. She threw out an awesome first pitch for the Astros in 2016.

The Houston Astros brought in Brian McCann and Evan Gattis for Game 1's first pitch, both former Astros catchers and members of Houston's 2017 championship team. Between Biles, McCann and Gattis, it looks like Houston is hoping their first pitch participants can rub off championship energy.

McCann and Gattis did not bring enough good luck for Game 1, however, as the Nationals came out on top in a thrilling 5-4 victory to take a 1-0 series lead.

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