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Fla governor claims fired designer of COVID-19 dashboard faces sexual harassment charges

5 months 3 days 6 hours ago Thursday, May 21 2020 May 21, 2020 May 21, 2020 7:22 AM May 21, 2020 in News
Source: CBS 12

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The governor of Florida is openly at odds with a former state employee who helped design Florida's COVID-19 dashboard and then publicly criticized the state for firing her.

On Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis claimed that Rebekah Jones, the website's designer, faces an open criminal investigation for sexual cyber-harassment and cyberstalking. 

According to a report from CBS12, after Jones said her firing was "not voluntary" and that she was let go because she refused to censor some data as ordered, Gov. DeSantis claimed that Jones was let go for insubordination and reiterated the stance on Wednesday with Vice President Mike Pence at his side in Orlando.

"She didn't listen to people who are her superiors," said DeSantis.

He then went on to say, "Come to find out she's also under active criminal charges in the state of Florida. She's being charged with cyber-stalking and cyber sexual harassment." 

A police report from Tallahassee Police shows a man claimed to be a victim of revenge porn by Jones in June of 2019. The man told police he had an injunction against Jones for a year until it recently expired. He said Jones posted a website which included naked pictures of him, and shared it with his place of employment and family members.

At the time of her arrest, she listed her place of employment as the Florida Department of Health.

DeSantis said Jones is not a scientist. He said she had degrees in journalism, communications, and geography. He also said she's not the chief architect of the web portal.

Jones, who has ties to Louisiana as an LSU alum, earlier claimed that she had been working on the website, "alone, sixteen hours a day for two months." 

"She was putting data on the portal which the scientists didn't believe was valid data," DeSantis said. "So she didn't listen to the people who were her superiors."

The governor said the dashboard data is transparent.

"Any insinuation otherwise is just typical partisan narrative trying to be spun," DeSantis said.

Reporters reached out to Jones via the email she used to contact the station, which matches the one listed in the police report. The email bounced back with an "out of office" reply.

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