Sarah Jones, the ex-Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader and ex-teacher who found herself in the middle of a national controversy when it was revealed she had a sexual relationship with one of her students, won her suit against TheDirty.com. Jones is too be awarded $338,000 in damages stemming from two posts made on the popular gossip site claiming she had slept with every Cincinnati Bengals player and had contracted multiple STDs.
Jones says she plans on using the money to help pay for law school.
It is very likely the the ruling will be appealed by TheDirty’s legal team, though. According to Eric Goldman (not associated with the website but an expert on the Communications Decency Act), the judge’s ruling against TheDirty proprietor Nik Richie was flawed.
[H]olding Nik Richie accountable for his users’ comments unambiguously violates federal law. The judge made a clearly wrong ruling on that point earlier in the case, and that mistaken ruling provides an important grounds for appeal. Second, Jones damaged her own reputation soon after the posts when she broke the law and had sex with her underage student. It’s amazing the jury was able to overlook that key fact and believed her reputation could be damaged by obviously nonsense online posts to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The outcome of the appeal could greatly impact the legal rights of other gossip sites and user-generated-content sites. We will keep you posted with more.