A Kentucky high school principal has admitted to stealing nude photos from phones he confiscated from high school students, and then trading them online on child pornography-trading websites, The State is reporting.
Stephen Kyle Goodlett, 36, is currently facing both federal and state child pornography charges after investigators found dozens of photos of girls, some as young as 10 years old, on his devices.
Until October 2016, Goodlett had been principal at LaRue County High School. However, a few days after his arrest, superintendent Sam Sanders announced Goodlett’s firing, calling it an “unprecedented situation,” according to The News-Enterprise.
“This is an unprecedented situation, and we feel the best thing for our school district is to end Mr. Goodlett’s employment and move forward.”
Several members of the community expressed shock that the beloved and respected principal was accused of such a heinous crime. Others noted that he had a wife and child.
Things began unraveling for the former principal in September 2016. A 20-year-old woman somehow learned that a naked photo of her, which she took for her boyfriend when she was 15, had wound up on a child pornography website based in Russia. She called the cops.
Forensic investigators eventually determined that the IP address from which the naked image had been uploaded belonged to Goodlett. As it turned out, Goodlett had confiscated the girl’s phone back when she was in high school; police deduced that he must have stolen the nude image from her confiscated cell phone.
Investigators served a search warrant at Goodlett’s home, and found some 60 images of child pornography on his computer and other devices. One was the woman whose phone had been confiscated when she was a teenager. Another was of a naked girl between 10 and 14 years of age. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children began working to match the child pornography images to known victims of sexual assault and known missing children.
Under interrogation by the Kentucky State Police, Goodlett admitted that he stole more than just one image of a naked teenager from a student’s confiscated cell phone.
“Goodlett admitted to KSP that he had an addiction to pornography and that he transferred images from phones confiscated from students to his personal thumb drive without their consent or knowledge. [He then shared them on child pornography websites] with the intent of trading for more images.”
As WLKY (Louisville) reported at the time, police asked anyone who had attended high school at either of the schools where Goodlett had been employed, and had had their phones confiscated, to come in to answer questions. It is not clear, as of this writing, how many, if any, of Goodlett’s former students came forward, nor how many stolen images of his former students wound up on child pornography websites.
Goodlett is not the first school employee suspected to have used students’ phones as a source of child pornography. As the Washington Post reported in February 2016, Maryland teacher’s aide Deonte Carraway was accused of giving cell phones to elementary school students and telling them to take nude photos or videos of sex acts. He would then collect the phones at the end of each day.
In December 2016, Goodlett pleaded not guilty to 63 state child pornography charges. The former principal is also facing federal child pornography charges; he was indicted this week on multiple federal charges of possessing and transporting child pornography.
[Featured Image by Hardin County Detention Center]