Judge delays sentencing of ex-principal in child porn case

November 9, 2017

FILE - This Oct. 13, 2016, file photo released by the Hardin County Detention Center, shows Stephen Kyle Goodlett, the former principal of LaRue County, Ky. Goodlett, who pleaded guilty to child pornography charges stemming from uploaded nude images of a student whose cellphone he confiscated is set to be sentenced Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, in U.S. District Court in Louisville. (Hardin County Detention Center via AP, File)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — For years, a Kentucky principal lived a secret life.

Long a respected community leader, Stephen Kyle Goodlett regularly attended church and mentored children. But, prosecutors say, he also covertly searched the confiscated student cellphones of teenage girls for nude photos, saving them to thumb drives to be viewed, uploaded and traded on the internet.

Court documents say investigators found evidence that Goodlett — who taught at Elizabethtown High School south of Louisville before his 2012 hiring as an administrator at nearby LaRue County High — possessed and transported child pornography from 2005 until his arrest last year.

Goodlett, 37, pleaded guilty earlier this year to federal charges of transporting and possessing child pornography. Meanwhile, he faces 63 child porn counts in state court.

U.S. District Court Judge David J. Hale delayed Goodlett’s sentencing Thursday, saying he had questions about how the state’s case would impact the decisions he made in the federal case. Hale said attorneys couldn’t answer those questions during a 30-minute meeting in chambers, so he decided to reset sentencing for Jan. 11.

The two federal charges carry a penalty of five to 40 years though his plea agreement recommends he serve nine years in prison.

In state court, prosecutor Theresa Logsdon said the defense filed a motion last month to dismiss charges against Goodlett, alleging double jeopardy since he also faces the federal counts. Logsdon said the judge hasn’t set a hearing on the motion.

Goodlett’s downfall came after a young woman who had attended LaRue County High School learned that naked images she had taken for her boyfriend when she was 15 had been uploaded to a pornography trading website based in Russia. She went to Elizabethtown police, who sought federal help.

Authorities determined the IP address of the device used to upload images to the website matched an account registered by Goodlett, according to a federal complaint. It added the initial police review of Goodlett’s devices found 60 examples of child pornography. Records show a forensic review found 436 images and 11 videos.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children later identified images of the Elizabethtown woman as well as a naked girl between 10 and 14 years old in Goodlett’s Dropbox account, the agent said.

After signing a waiver of his rights and agreeing to a recorded interview with state investigators, the former high school principal acknowledged finding the images on confiscated phones, transferring them and sharing them online, authorities say.

In federal court documents, Goodlett’s attorney said his client has already lost everything important to him from an addiction to pornography.

“Kyle is a broken man. He is also a sick man. There is no other viable explanation for the behavior that he engaged in ... He knows he has betrayed the trust of his community, his students, his colleagues and his family,” attorney Christopher Spedding said in a memorandum asking the judge to accept the sentence recommended in the plea agreement.

The agreement noted Goodlett has accepted responsibility for his actions. He must also register as a sex offender upon release from prison.

Attorney Joseph Mattingly, who represents several former students who filed lawsuits over the photos, said they aren’t commenting on the sentencing recommendation but that they still feel angry and betrayed. He said they suffer from anxiety because some photos can still be found online despite law enforcement efforts to remove them.

“Not only was this a great breach of confidence with a school official and an outrageous course of conduct by him, but it’s something that will not likely end just because the perpetrator is convicted and is sentenced to prison. These images unfortunately persist and they’ve got to deal with that,” he said.

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