Judge declines request to bar text messages

Published:

COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- A judge has denied a request that text messages be thrown out in the case against a former cheerleader for the Cincinnati Bengals who is charged with having sex with a 17-year-old student when she was a teacher in northern Kentucky.

The Kentucky Enquirer (http://bit.ly/Qr5hLE) reports that in a ruling issued Tuesday, Kenton Circuit Judge Patricia M. Summe said she found that the district judge who approved the warrant for the text messages was "neutral and detached."

Sarah Jones is facing a sex abuse charge. Her attorney, Eric Deters, said during a hearing last month that District Judge Kenneth Easterling shouldn't have granted the warrant because he knew the victim, but Easterling denied having any prior contact with the teen.

The trial is set to begin on Oct. 10.

The ruling means prosecutors will be able to use the text messages during court proceedings. Summe said in her order that she found that the judge had more credibility while testifying during a hearing over the issue than "a boy whose anxiety on the stand clearly indicated he does not want his text messages released."

Prosecutors alleged that Jones, 27, had sex with the boy in 2011 when he was 17.

Deters said he was disappointed in the ruling.

"I respectfully disagree with the judge's ruling on Judge Easterling being a neutral and detached magistrate -- and there was no probable cause for these search warrants," he said.

Leland Hulbert, a spokesman for prosecutor Sara Farmer, said she was "pleased" by ruling.

"The judge's decision is obviously helpful to the prosecution," Hulbert said.

Deters, however, said he expects Jones and her mother, Cheryl Jones, who faces a tampering with evidence charge, to be exonerated.

"I am going to prepare to try this case, and I expect my clients to be acquitted of all charges," Deters said.

___

Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com