Sarah Jones (Source: Kenton County Detention Center)
Cheryl Jones (Source: Kenton County Detention Center)
COVINGTON, KY (FOX19) -
Sarah Jones' attorneys have filed a motion to suppress, asking all text messages related to her case not be allowed in court.
"This is one of the most thorough motions to suppress that I've ever seen," FOX19 legal expert Mike Allen said of the 32 page document. "There's case law in it. There are also very specific allegations backed up by affidavits which of course we've not seen. Just the sheer number of allegations here are problematic for the prosecutor."
Jones is a former Ben-gal and teacher who is accused of having sexual contact with a student while she was teaching at Dixie Heights High School. She has since resigned her teaching job.
Jones' attorneys argue she and her mother Cheryl Jones had an "expectation of privacy" when they sent text messages to the alleged victim, believing those messages could not be viewed without their consent.
"There is a reasonable expectation of privacy in texting and text messages however it's an evolving area of law and every day police officers get search warrants for text messages," Allen said.
According to the motion (click to see the motion [.pdf]), the judge who signed the search warrants for phone and texting records was involved in the disposition of traffic tickets for the alleged victim.
The motion alleges [Judge Easterling] was a Dixie parent whose son was friends with [the alleged victim] and that "while this alone might not create an appearance of impropriety, his involvement in the disposition of these tickets for the alleged victim of the crime does show bias …".
It also alleges that, in private, the Judge questioned the teen about the ongoing investigation into his rumored relationship with Ms. Jones. The documents state the Judge Easterling was the signing judge for six different search warrants in the case.
According to Jones' attorneys, the judge had to be impartial to sign the warrants, and he was not.
"That's enough right there to get the search warrant and the evidence thrown out if the allegations are true," Allen said.
The defense also claims the police affidavit has untruths and the Kenton Commonwealth Attorney has shared sealed text messages to members of the public.
"Those are some pretty serious allegations involving Mr. [Rob] Sanders and I would be shocked if any of those are true," Allen said.
Sanders told FOX19 Monday that he had not yet had a chance to review the motion. Sanders had already recused himself from the case due to a conflict of interest. The case is being handled by a prosecutor from Louisville.
The defense also argued the affidavit did not support a finding of probable cause; arguing it was instead based on "rumors" and "high school gossip."
"Search warrants can be based upon hearsay," Allen explained. "But if they are based upon hearsay there has to be a demonstration in the affidavit of the search warrant that the persons saying these things are credible and reliable."
Jones has been indicted for First Degree Sexual Abuse and Unlawful Use of Electronic Devices to Solicit Illegal Activity. Her mother, Cheryl Jones, the former principal at Twenhofel Middle School in Independence, was also indicted for Tampering with Evidence.
Jones' trial, which was originally scheduled to begin at the end of June, has been delayed until October. Her attorneys asked for more time to review more documents related to the case.
According to a representative from the Kenton County School District, Cheryl Jones retired, effective June 1. She is currently receiving full benefits.
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Sunday, May 19 2013 12:59 AM EDT2013-05-19 04:59:50 GMT
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