Rebekah Jones makes first appearance in court, released on bond

According to Leon County Court documents, former Department of Health data scientist Rebekah...
According to Leon County Court documents, former Department of Health data scientist Rebekah Jones is now in the Leon County Jail.(Leon County Jail)
Published: Jan. 18, 2021 at 10:34 AM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Rebekah Jones walked out of the Leon County Jail around 2:30 Monday afternoon, flanked by her attorney.

Jones posted a $2500 bond earlier in the day.

Jones’ attorney asked for privacy as she walked to her car, but then Jones told reporters gathered at the gate, she had tested positive for COVID-19 while in jail.

“Believe me, I do,” Jones said when asked about the irony of testing positive for COVID-19. “Fortunately, I made it this far without catching it,” she said.

Attorney Stephen Dobson is a part of her legal team. Reached by phone Monday afternoon, Dobson said “we’ve maintained her innocence from the beginning and we still do.”

“We disagree with what the state alleges, and we look forward to proving that in court,” Dobson said.

Local tech expert Blake Dowlnig said if allegations are proven true, Jones’ acts are serious.

“It’s really scary when a database is breached and that information, well this isn’t casual information. We’re talking about a pandemic here and everyone is hypersensitive.”

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Rebekah Jones appeared before a judge Monday morning for the first time since her arrest on felony charges of illegally accessing the Department of Health’s computer system.

Jones appeared via video link from the jail in a blue jail jumpsuit and a face mask. Her voice was scratchy and she coughed quietly but repeatedly throughout the hearing.

Prosecutors were asking for a $5,000 bond, a GPS monitor and an order barring her from accessing the internet.

The judge set a $2,500 bond. He ruled against the GPS monitor and did not ban her from accessing the internet.

Judge John Cooper did order Jones to stay off any Department of Health or state computer systems.

“It’s like killing a gnat with an ax,” Jones’ attorney Louis Jean Baptiste said of the request to ban internet access.

Baptiste’s law partner, Stephen Webster, told the judge that Jones drove two days from her new home in Washington, DC to turn herself in on these charges. She didn’t move there “to get away from anything,” that is where she’s from, Webster said in arguing against the GPS monitor.

Court records show Jones turned herself in at the Leon County Jail Sunday night at 11:16 p.m.

Court records also show the arrest warrant was signed by a judge the day after a civil court hearing in which Jones requested the state return the computer FDLE seized during a search of her home.

Her attorneys told the judge “They won’t fish. They won’t cut bait. They won’t bring a criminal charge and they won’t turn the property back.”

Jones is now facing a third-degree felony charge. No future court dates have been set.

Judge Cooper left it up to the Leon County judge presiding over a separate misdemeanor cyberstalking case to decide whether her pre-trial release should be revoked in that case based on her new arrest.

Court records show Jones posted the $2,500 bond at 10:58 a.m. Monday.

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