Nationals

Ex-Bengal cheerleader's libel lawsuit trial starts

Ex-Bengal cheerleader's libel lawsuit trial starts

COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) A former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader who had sex with her underage student told him she fell in love the first time he walked into the classroom where she was teaching freshman English, according to text messages read in court Tuesday.

New details about Sarah Jones' relationship with the teen came out in a northern Kentucky courtroom during the first day of the trial stemming from her defamation lawsuit against a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based gossip website and its owner.

Jones is asking a jury to award her $11 million for lewd posts made about her on thedirty.com, saying they caused her severe mental and emotional distress and weren't true. The posts in question were unrelated to her relationship with the student and were made before any accusations about it surfaced.

Her attorney, Eric Deters, is arguing that the jury should award her damages for the time between when the posts were made in 2009 and February 2011, when Jones admitted in her criminal trial to beginning a relationship with the former student, who was 17 at the time.

But attorneys for thedirty.com told jurors that text messages between Jones and the student indicate the relationship began earlier.

``I fell in love with you a long time ago,'' Jones texted to the teen in November 2011. ``I knew when I saw you we'd be together, freshman year. It's weird because you were like, 14, and I was like, 22 ... It was love at first sight.''

Alex Ward, one of the attorneys for thedirty.com and its owner, Hooman Karamian, told jurors in opening statements that the text messages prove that Jones is sexually immoral and, therefore, the posts about her are not defamatory.

Jones, who is now 27, took the stand and testified that she didn't fall in love with the teen when he was 14, and only told him that because he can be insecure and she was trying to reassure him. The former teacher pleaded guilty to charges that she had sex with the teen but avoided jail time. The two are still in a relationship.

Jones is suing Karamian, who goes by the name Nik Richie and lives in Orange County, Calif., over two posts in October and December of 2011.

In the first, Jones is pictured smiling for the camera with a former kicker for the Bengals with a caption that says she had sex with every single member of the team.

The second showed her in a bikini from one of the Bengals calendars, 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 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?''

Jones began crying during her testimony Tuesday, saying that she repeatedly begged Richie to take the posts down before resorting to a lawsuit. She said he and his fans - known as the Dirty Army - continue to post negative comments about her.

``I just want him to leave me alone,'' she said through tears. ``I don't want to be posted on his website anymore.''

She said the posts made her sick to her stomach and depressed, caused her to lose 10 pounds and made her job as a teacher uncomfortable.

Richie's attorneys told jurors that Jones was a convicted felon and admitted liar who was just trying to get a big check over the posts.

They pointed to more text messages between Jones and the teen. In them, she said she wanted to buy a house with pink shutters, a pink swimming pool and a bowling alley in the basement with pink bowling balls. She tells the teen that she'd buy him a white Mercedes.

``This is a money grab,'' Ward told jurors. ``She's a convicted felon because she's a teacher who had sex with a student. Point-blank, she used her position of authority to seduce a student, and that's the reason she'll never be a teacher again, not some post on thedirty.''

Deters said Jones was seeking a large financial reward to punish Richie and make sure he can't post anything else about her or anyone else.

``We want you to award, in honesty, as much money as you can stomach,'' he said. ``We're going to ask you to do that to put him out of business.''

Richie has been posting racy photos and biting comments for years on his website, mostly picking apart women's looks.

The photos that Richie posts are sometimes submitted by the women themselves seeking Richie's opinion, but more often they are posted by people who want to gossip about someone else. Many of the comments are harsh, but Richie argues that the people posted to the site are usually there for a reason, such as being unfaithful or promiscuous.

Jones resigned as a teacher at Dixie Heights High School in northern Kentucky and from the Bengals cheer squad in late 2011 after four years with both jobs. Deters said at the time that Jones had done nothing wrong and stepped down because a rumor that she had become involved with a student became too much.

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

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Nationals win despite having to turn to little-known pitcher for pivotal start

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Nationals win despite having to turn to little-known pitcher for pivotal start

WASHINGTON -- If any bump was coming from a return home or Mike Rizzo’s public pregame words or simply being out of New York, it was not apparent Friday.

Three errors committed in the first four innings. The first reliever into the game, Joe Ross, allowed three earned runs before recording a second out. Starter Kyle McGowin barely made it through the fourth inning of an eventual and desperately needed 12-10 win.

The rally kept the Nationals from creeping toward of new level of dubiousness in this muck-filled season. They pushed 2 ½ games in front of the Marlins for the National League’s worst record. Juan Soto hit a three-run homer in the eighth. Matt Adams followed with a solo homer. Sean Doolittle had trouble, but closed the game. Those efforts kept this from being another story about the bullpen (five more runs allowed Friday).

So, here’s a different question to ponder (there are a million or none, depending on point of view) after Friday night: How did the Nationals end up with 27-year-old McGowin starting a surprisingly pivotal game?

The nuts-and-bolts version is because of injuries. Both Anibal Sanchez -- who threw a simulation game Friday -- and Jeremy Hellickson are on the injured list. The deeper answer comes from looking at the recent erosion of pitchers in Washington’s minor-league system.

McGowin made his second career start Friday because there is no one else. No hot minor-league prospect, no early-round pick who has been up and down and received another shot, no veteran stashed in the minor leagues for such situations.

Looming behind all of this is the 2016 trade of three pitching prospects to acquire Adam Eaton. Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning were all sent to Chicago for Eaton’s advanced-stats and cost-friendly contract. The departure of three starting pitchers in one shot reverberated Friday when the Nationals were forced to use McGowin in a spot start as the seventh starter of the season.

This is more a volume than quality issue. Neither Lopez or Giolito were effective in limited chances at the major-league level with Washington before being traded. Once in Chicago, Giolito became arguably the worst pitcher in baseball in 2018. No one allowed more earned runs or walks that season. Lopez had a quality season, finishing with 3.1 WAR.

The two have reversed outcomes in 2019. Giolito has rediscovered his velocity. After throwing 100 mph in the 2015 Futures Game, his velocity caved. Giolito was down to 92-93 mph with the Nationals and, initially, Chicago. Thursday, he hit 97 mph in the ninth inning of a shutout against Houston. The outing drove his ERA down to 2.77.

Lopez is struggling. His 5.14 ERA is venturing toward Giolito’s status of a year ago. His walk total -- always the concern -- is up, as are his homers allowed.

But what Giolito and Lopez have, at age 24 and 25, respectively, is potential. Giolito, who often fussed with his mechanics in Washington, has discovered a delivery to expedite his fastball and an approach to boost the effectiveness of his changeup. Lopez’s 2018 showed he can be a solid back-end rotation member. They were expected to follow behind Erick Fedde and Joe Ross in establishing a future rotation. But, those two are in Chicago, Ross is in the bullpen, where he gave up three runs Friday, and Fedde just returned to the rotation after being moved to the bullpen.

So, it was McGowin on the mound Friday. Four innings, six hits, five runs, one walk, two strikeouts, two home runs allowed. Why? No better choice is available.

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Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic and Nationals grant boys wish to be a player for a day

Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic and Nationals grant boys wish to be a player for a day

The Nationals welcomed 10-year-old cancer patient Parker Staples as the newest addition to their team on Friday, in conjunction with the Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic Foundation.

While battling lymphoma, Staples learned he would receive a wish and didn’t hesitate about what he wanted to choose. After being sidelined for two years during treatment, Parker couldn’t wait to celebrate his remission by becoming part of his favorite baseball team. 

Staples was introduced to his new teammates and got signed autographs from Matt Adams, Juan Soto, Anthony Rendon, and Yan Gomes. He also got to spend time hitting and playing catch with his new teammates, as well as being interviewed as the newest member of the team. It gets even better than that, Staples threw the ceremonial first pitch at Nationals Park leading up to the Marlins-Nationals game Staples 

"My favorite moment was throwing the first pitch. It was really cool," Staples said.

"Probably the biggest day of my life."

The Nationals are hosted the Miami Marlins in the series opener Friday.

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