The designer of Florida’s COVID-19 dashboard is facing additional questions about her professional history.
According to the Daily Mail, 30-year-old Rebekah Jones, who was recently removed from her state job for alleged insubordination, also lost her job at Florida State University three years ago as a doctoral student and teacher after reportedly having an affair with a student.
That student, identified as 21-year-old Garrett Sweeterman, ultimately filed a restraining order against Jones, who is charged with sexual cyber-harassment and cyber stalking.
Jones allegedly created a “revenge porn” website called SurvivingGarrett in 2017 while working for the health department, and sent the link for the site to online boards focused on feminism and the #metoo movement.
She also wrote a 342-page manifesto detailing her affair with Sweeterman, and posted 60 pages of it online, including screen shots of graphic text messages.
In the manifesto, Jones says the student impregnated her, and that she gave birth to a girl in mid-2018. Jones has an 8-year-old son with her husband.
The @CDCgov has developed a #COVID19 Self-Checker. The online guide helps individuals make decisions and seek appropriate medical care regarding #COVID19. Visit https://t.co/wUEND2C9ny or the @HealthyFla #COVID19 site at https://t.co/qDmPAnMiyi to use the Self-Checker. pic.twitter.com/NqE7OTpvr3
— Florida Dept. Health (@HealthyFla) May 23, 2020
Robert Morris, Jones’ lawyer in the revenge porn case, emailed a statement to The Daily Mail. It reads:
“It is unfortunate that Ms. Jones has been thrust into this spotlight. I am certain that appropriate investigation and inquiry from oversight committees and other investigative agencies will reveal what has happened and why it has happened. Ms. Jones has a sound academic history.”
He continues, “Her prior personal history and challenges should not be mixed with the present circumstance. Ms. Jones is working hard to resolve personal and private legal issues that are completely unrelated to her awkward thrust into the national media through no choice of her own.”
Meanwhile, Sweeterman’s lawyer, Tiffany Cruz, told The Daily Mail in a statement:
“Mr. Sweeterman has nothing to do with the current situation between the Florida Department of Health and Ms. Jones, and does not know anything about it. In 2019, Ms. Jones published a number of allegations about Mr. Sweeterman, from the time he was her student at FSU. Ms. Jones filed a number of legal actions against him, which the court records will show were rightly dismissed by her and the court.”
Jones recently told CNN that she has emails proving that Florida health officials asked her to change data on the dashboard, in order to increase support for Florida’s reopening plan.
Gov. DeSantis says Jones was fired for insubordination, in that she refused to change the data.
Former Coronavirus Dashboard Designer Says Emails Prove State Asked to Change Data