Retrial in ex-cheerleader's libel suit against website owner begins

July 8, 2013 at 2:59 PM

COVINGTON, Ky., July 8 (UPI) -- A defamation suit retrial by a former Cincinnati Bengals' cheerleader against a celebrity gossip website is a freedom-of-speech issue, her lawyer said Monday.

The case of Sarah Jones, against TheDirty.com owner Nik Richie, opened Monday in Covington, Ky., federal court. Jones is suing Richie for $11 million for anonymous posts in 2009 that claimed she had sex with Bengals players, had sexually transmitted diseases and engaged in sex with students while a high school teacher, WCPO-TV, Cincinnati, reported.

In opening statements, David Gingras, Richie's attorney, noted Jones is a convicted felon, having pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a student to whom she is now engaged to be married. He added Richie was not the author of the posts on the website and could not be held responsible for others' claims.

"My client didn't write any of it. My client simply runs a website where people talk," Gingras said before the trial.

After the first defamation trial ended in January in a hung jury, a war of words between Jones and Richie ensued, Jones' attorney Eric Deters calling Richie a "scuzzball" in a Fox News interview, and a website and Twitter by Richie saying, "Sarah, I will never pay you any money. I can promise you that."

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