LOUISVILLE, Ky. – For years, a Kentucky principal lived a secret-lewd life.
The man was longtime respected community leader. Moreover, Stephen Kyle Goodlett regularly attended church and mentored children. But, prosecutors say, he also covertly searched the confiscated student cell phones of teenage girls for nude photos, saving them to thumb drives to be viewed, uploaded and traded on the Internet, reported Fox News.
Court documents indicate 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. Consequently, he awaits sentencing Thursday in Louisville. The two charges carry a penalty of five to 40 years though his plea agreement recommends he serve nine years in prison.
His downfall came at the hands of some diligent investigative work. It began when 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. Furthermore, 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.
As a result, his secret lewd life was exposed.
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. Furthermore, he admitted to transferring the images and sharing them online, authorities say.
In addition to the federal charges, Goodlett is facing 63 state felony charges related to child pornography.
In federal court documents, Goodlett’s attorney said his client has already lost everything important to him. He blamed it on 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 recommend in the plea agreement.
The plea agreement noted Goodlett has accepted responsibility for his actions. Part of the consequences is that 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. The women indicated they still feel angry and betrayed.
Mattingly said the women suffer from anxiety because some photos can still be found online despite the best efforts from law enforcement 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.
Goodlett’s lawyer said his client has cooperated with authorities since his arrest. He has explained how he operated and which website and file-sharing functions are used for such activities. He also helped identify victims and began therapy for his addiction while on pretrial release, his lawyer declared.
Patrick Holley, of Holley Counseling in Lexington, is Goodlett’s therapist. Holley wrote in a letter to the judge that he shows remorse and has empathy for his victims.
“He rather unusually articulates gratitude for his sexual misconduct being revealed, so that he can use this time to grow as an individual,” Holley wrote.
Others also wrote letters asking the judge for justice with mercy when deciding Goodlett’s punishment. Many of the letters, which were redacted to remove names, described him as a good man who made horrible mistakes while in the throes of a pornography addiction.
“I can’t help but think as talented as Kyle is if he gets a handle on his addiction then he can turn things around. He won’t ever work in a school system again, but I know he can make a contribution somewhere,” said one letter-writer, who described Goodlett as one of the best high school principals he had worked with. “I have seen his talent and know that he can make a contribution if given a chance.”
Yet before he is given a chance his punishment awaits via a prison cell.
(Booking photo courtesy Hardin County Detention Center)