Friday it was decided the defamation lawsuit a former schoolteacher and Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader brought against Newport Beach's Nik Richie will proceed July 8--pending an out-of-court settlement before then, of course.
Sarah Jones is suing Richie in Kentucky federal court over anonymous, third-party posts left about her on his controversial website TheDirty.com.
Jones, who pleaded guilty in October to having sex with one of her then-17-year-old students in Kentucky, is suing Richie (real name: Hooman Karamian) over two October posts. One included a photo of a smiling Jones with a former Bengals kicker and a caption claiming she had sex with every member of the NFL team. The second was a shot of her in a bikini for a Bengals calendar with the cutline claiming she likely contracted chlamydia and gonorrhea from her ex-husband, who'd cheated on her with more than 50 women.
The Jones suit claims she suffered emotional distress from the posts that harmed her job performance with the Bengals and the high school she taught at, even before her tryst with the student. She resigned from the Bengals and Dixie Heights High School in late 2011 after four years at both jobs.
U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman in Northern Kentucky declared a mistrial in the suit on Jan. 25 because jurors failed to reach a verdict after a three-day trial and two days of deliberations. The jury voted 8-2 in favor of the posts being false as Jones claimed, but a unanimous decision was required. Jurors were unanimous in agreeing Richie did not act with malice, which means Jones would have received no money from him even with unanimous agreement that the posts were substantially false.
Bertelsman set a new trial date on Friday while indicating he is now considering a request by Richie's attorneys to reconsider their argument that the website is protected under the federal Communications Decency Act, which provides immunity to website publishers from liability for content that comes from third parties. Richie and his attorney lay out that argument in the update to this post:
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
The judge previously ruled that the federal law was not meant for websites like The Dirty, which is based in Richie's former stomping grounds, Scottsdale, Arizona, although the married father is now raising his family in Newport Beach. Bertelsman could decide with fresh eyes to reverse his previous ruling, let it stand or punt it to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. Jones, who has since divorced her husband, is reportedly still with her former student lover.
A federal court in Missouri previously ruled Richie and The Dirty are protected under the Communications Decency Act.