Redskins

Ex-Bengals cheerleader's lawsuit trial to begin

Ex-Bengals cheerleader's lawsuit trial to begin

CINCINNATI (AP) A former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader who had sex with her underage student is about to begin another court battle on Tuesday in a bizarre case stemming from sexually tinged, disparaging comments made about her on a website long before the scandal was revealed.

Sarah Jones, a 27-year-old northern Kentucky woman, was convicted three months ago of having sex with a student who at the time was 17. She and the young man, who is now 18, are in a relationship - and she is suing a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based gossip website and its owner over lewd comments made about her online long before any accusations involving the teenager surfaced.

The trial over the lawsuit begins Tuesday with jury selection in Covington, Ky., just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. It's expected to last less than a week.

Jones is seeking $11 million in damages, accusing thedirty.com and its owner, Hooman Karamian, of defamation and invasion of privacy.

Karamian, who goes by the name Nik Richie and lives in Orange County, Calif., has been posting racy photos and biting comments for years on the website, mostly picking apart a woman's looks. Among some of his lines: ``there is a line on her chin that bothers me,'' ``her hips exceed her shoulders,'' and ``her arms are blotchy.''

Particularly unappealing women get nicknames like ``Leper'' and ``Chewbacca.''

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 online.

In Jones' case, Richie posted a photo of her on Dec. 7, 2009. The post, submitted by someone who knows her, called her a ``dirty Bengals cheerleader.'' It claimed that her ex-boyfriend contracted chlamydia and gonorrhea after cheating on her with more than 50 women, and that he likely gave it to Jones.

Richie, a 33-year-old married father of a 1-year-old girl, said the only thing he wrote about Jones was, ``Why are all high school teachers freaks in the sack?''

If Jones' lawsuit succeeds and is awarded a large sum of money, other websites including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon could be bombarded with lawsuits over material posted by their users.

``It opens the floodgates,'' said Richie's Phoenix-area lawyer, David Gingras, who has successfully argued dozens of similar cases across the country. ``It would basically destroy the ability of websites like Facebook that allow users to post comments. ... Once you strip away their immunity, once you make it conditional, you open the door to allow them to get sued.''

Gingras said those websites and Richie's are clearly protected under the federal Communications Decency Act.

Passed in 1995 by Congress, the law was designed in part to provide immunity to website publishers from liability for content that comes from third parties.

Jones' attorney, Eric Deters, said Richie could be responsible for the entire post involving his client because he hasn't said who submitted it and will argue that the Communications Decency Act doesn't protect thedirty.com.

``Unlike social media sites such as Facebook or YouTube that allow someone to put up something and they don't comment about it, Nik Richie personally acts as the editor in determining what goes up,'' he said. ``It's nothing more than an electronic newspaper that peddles smut.''

Richie, who has been sued 17 times over his posts, defends the site as a form of entertainment, created to be a sort-of TMZ for non-celebrities who crave attention or present themselves as perfect.

``The site was created to make people laugh and give them an escape from their job and see people they know, not Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan and the same regurgitated celebrity stuff, but the pseudo-celebrities in their town, who go out to the clubs, the popular kids,'' he said. ``It's not intended to harm people.''

Gingras said nearly all 17 lawsuits were settled after Richie agreed to take down a given post; he lost only one because a business partner didn't fight it.

As for the ``freak in the sack'' comment, Gingras said he can argue that it's the truth.

To do that, he'll draw on text messages Jones exchanged with the student. The messages are under a court seal, but Gingras has access to them as part of the lawsuit.

``She testified under oath that she was not a freak in the sack, but anyone who reads these text messages would not agree with that conclusion. They're extremely, extremely graphic,'' he said. ``Based on the contents of the messages, she acknowledged that she was, quote, `A freak in the sack.'''

Jones admitted in court to having sex with the student in February 2011, when she was 26. The teen had been in Jones' freshman English class in 2008, and she was his peer tutor in 2010 and 2011 before he graduated last year, according to a plea agreement signed by Jones - a move that allowed her to avoid jail time.

The day after, Jones and the student sat down with NBC's Dateline and said they were still in a relationship, in love and didn't care what other people thought.

Richie's post about Jones came more than two years before her relationship with the student, and Deters argues that they caused her severe emotional distress and prompted her to quit her teaching job.

Jones resigned as a teacher at Dixie Heights 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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Three ways the Redskins helped Dwayne Haskins truly shine for the first time

Three ways the Redskins helped Dwayne Haskins truly shine for the first time

Dwayne Haskins played really well Sunday against the Eagles, and it wasn't just on certain drives or in specific situations. Haskins put together a complete and encouraging performance in Week 15, and for that, he deserves a lot of credit.

But the Redskins' coaching staff, and most notably Kevin O'Connell, should be praised as well for setting Haskins up to shine versus Philly.

Here are three things O'Connell and the offense did at FedEx Field that contributed to the rookie's best effort as a pro.

They were more aggressive on early downs

The following two things are true: 1) Bill Callahan loves Adrian Peterson, and 2) Adrian Peterson has a legitimate shot at rushing for more than 1,000 yards this season. Because of those two facts, it felt like Sunday was setting up to be the Peterson Show, especially on first down.

It wasn't, though, and that greatly benefitted Haskins.

No. 7 found Terry McLaurin for a nine-yarder to start the contest, a throw that allowed the QB to settle into a nice rhythm from the start. The 75-yard touchdown pass from Haskins to McLaurin was also a first down toss, one that featured play-action:

A first down pass in the second quarter, meanwhile, led to a defensive pass interference that advanced the ball 14 yards. On that possession, Haskins would eventually find Steven Sims for a score. 

Throughout the matchup, the Burgundy and Gold seemed more comfortable with trusting Haskins to attack the Eagles, and that's something he very much enjoyed.

"I hope to continue to do it," he told reporters postgame.

They targeted Steven Sims a bunch

Want another example of O'Connell's influence over the gameplan? Look no further than how much Sims was involved.

Overall, Sims was targeted 11 times, and while he only hauled in five of those passes, he's a guy worth looking to often. O'Connell has talked for weeks now about how much he wants to use Sims, and while it may sound odd to say that an undrafted receiver from Kansas deserves lots of chances on a unit that includes McLaurin and Peterson, it's true.

He's really difficult for defensive backs to stay in front of and he's shown a penchant for making some tremendous grabs, including his toe-tapper for his first career receiving TD on Sunday.  

"I'm seeing everything and I'm playing faster," Sims said in the locker room. 

O'Connell and Haskins are seeing him, too, and his larger role is giving Haskins another weapon to rely on.

They introduced a creative option play

In addition to the uptick in aggressiveness, the Redskins also were more creative against the Eagles than they had been lately. The best example of that is the option they introduced and executed perfectly on two separate snaps.

On the first option, Haskins fake-tossed it to Peterson before lateraling it to him a second later. The fake from Haskins was a nifty way to buy more time for the play to develop and it set Peterson up to pick up a first down:

They went back to it again in the third quarter, but this time, Haskins kept the ball and cut upfield for a 23-yard gain:

Watch any NFL game on any weekend, and you'll see offenses trying new concepts and surprising defenses with those concepts. In Week 15, the Redskins were finally one of those offenses, and the group as a whole was the most effective its been under Haskins. And for that, both the player and the staff should be recognized.

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Mark Lerner reflects on Bryce Harper’s departure in free agency

Mark Lerner reflects on Bryce Harper’s departure in free agency

The entire Donald Dell interview with Mark Lerner can be seen Tuesday, December 17, at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

For seven seasons, the Nationals and Bryce Harper enjoyed a happy marriage that included four NL East division titles, an MVP award and the respect from the rest of the league as legitimate playoff contenders year in and year out.

But principal managing owner Mark Lerner knew their relationship might not last forever. In an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Washington’s Donald Dell, Lerner talked about how the team balanced making a business decision with the personal side of hoping to extend Harper when he hit free agency last offseason.

“We all like Bryce but at the end of the day, there’s the economic factor, there’s other factors that come into it: clubhouse, interaction with teammates, everything you could imagine in a decision about a free agent,” Lerner said.

Harper signed a 13-year, $330 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, which at the time was the record for the most expensive contract in MLB history. The Nationals reportedly made him an offer for 10 years and $300 million that included $100 million in deferrals at the end of the 2018 season.

“He [was] a free agent for a reason, he earned that right,” Lerner said. “It’s his decision and his family’s decision where they play. And he chose to move on. He obviously got an incredible offer.

“Everybody seems to forget it’s not just a bidding war to get the players, the player has to want to play here and sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn’t.”

By the time Harper signed with Philadelphia in early March, the Nationals had already reported to Spring Training with starter Patrick Corbin signed to a six-year, $140 million deal as well as a slew of new faces on the roster that had joined the club through free agency. Lerner said Washington never heard back from Harper and didn’t want to wait for him to make a decision.

“We were moving down a different path at that point anyhow,” Lerner said. “Because, as you may recall, Bryce had not given us a response through his agent Scott Boras and we had decisions we had to make so we didn’t get caught waiting too long for him to find out we can’t get other players to replace him.

“And our choice at that point in time was either wait for him or we had the opportunity to sign Patrick Corbin. And we chose to sign Patrick Corbin and get another great starter, which has worked out great, and it was really more us at that point to say, ‘We have to move on.’”

The Nationals went on to win the World Series in 2019 while Harper posted an .882 OPS with 35 home runs in 157 games for the 81-81 Phillies. But as division rivals, Harper and the Nationals will see each other plenty over the next 12 years he’s locked into Philadelphia.

Only time will tell which side ends up wondering what could’ve been.

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