Sarah Jones, a former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader and teacher, pleaded guilty Monday to sexual misconduct and custodial interference charges in a case involving a 17-year-old student. The move allows her to avoid any jail time.
In a plea deal reached with Kentucky prosecutors, 26-year-old Jones agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges of sexual misconduct and custodial interference. This proved true the allegations that she had sex with the teenage student while she was working as a freshman English teacher at Dixie Heights High School in Crestview Hills, Ky.
The disgraced teacher appeared in Kenton County Circuit Court, where Judge Patricia Summe granted prosecutors' recommendation to sentence her to five years of diversion with no jail time, according to CBS.com.
"I began a romantic relationship while he was a student and I was in a position of authority," Jones said.
The diversion reportedly requires Jones to report to a court-appointed probation officer to undergo drug regular tests and to never apply for any teaching job again.
Jones is not required to register as a sex offender, although she does risk facing jail time if at any point she violates her diversion within the next five years.
Jones' mother Cheryl Jones, who was indicted by a grand jury on charges of attempted tampering with physical evidence, also pleaded guilty. She received a 1-year suspended sentence, with the stipulation that she must stay out of trouble for at least two years.
The case sparked public outrage particularly among local parents, who have grown increasingly concerned about the safety of their children.
Mother of three Sheila Elstro said that her children would be attending Twenhofel Middle School, where Cheryl works as the school's principal.
"It's definitely scary and concerning," Elstro told WPTV.com.
Local parent Brenda Woodcock expressed her concerns about sending her own kids to school if such incidents could occur.
"I think it's appalling that you send your kid to school with some teachers looking at them in an educational format and some of them are looking at them differently," Woodcock told wptv.com.