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Kentucky principal must pay $3.6M for sharing students’ nude photos

A disgraced Kentucky high school principal who is currently serving a nine-year sentence for a child pornography conviction has been ordered to pay $3.6million in damages to former students whose naked photos he had shared online.

A federal judge in Louisville last week recommended the judgment against Stephen Goodlett, 40, as part of a civil lawsuit that six women who previously attended LaRue County High School had filed against their former principal, alleging libel and Fourth Amendment violations.

Goodlett was sentenced to federal prison in February 2018 after he admitted to copying nude photos from female students’ confiscated cellphones and sending them to a Russia-based pornography-swapping  website. 

A federal judge in Kentucky recommended that former principal Stephen Goodlett, 40, pay $3.6million in damages to former students whose naked photos he had shared online

Goodlett was a principal at LaRue County High School (pictured) until a former student discovered her nude photos on a Russia-based pornography site and went to the police

Goodlett was a principal at LaRue County High School (pictured) until a former student discovered her nude photos on a Russia-based pornography site and went to the police 

Magistrate Judge Regina Edwards recommended that each of the plaintiffs should get $600,000, including $150,000 in compensatory damages and $450,000 in punitive damages, reported Louisville Courier-Journal.

‘An examination of the record shows that Plaintiffs have in fact suffered, and will continue to suffer, mental anguish, embarrassment, and damage to their respective reputations as a result of their private photographs being published on the internet,’ wrote the judge. ‘Many of the plaintiffs endured negative or lewd comments from family, friends, and acquaintances informing them that they had seen Plaintiffs’ nude or semi-nude images on the internet.’

One of the plaintiffs said she has ‘an irrational fear of being kidnapped’ and does not trust men. 

Another woman who sued the principal said whenever she meets new people or potential employers, she is concerned they know about her leaked nude photos. 

As a teacher at Elizabethtown High School south of Louisville and then principal of LaRue County High School for three years until he was fired in 2016, Goodlett was respected in his church and community. But prosecutors said he was covertly searching the confiscated student cellphones of teenage girls for nude photos, and saving them to thumb drives to be viewed, uploaded and traded on the internet.

His downfall came after a 20-year-old alumna of LaRue County High learned that naked images she had taken for her boyfriend when she was 15 had been uploaded to a Russian pornography website. 

The woman contacted the Elizabethtown police, who called in federal authorities. They traced the images to an account registered by Goodlett, and then searched his devices.

A federal complaint says the initial police review of Goodlett’s devices found 60 examples of child pornography. Records show a more thorough forensic review found 436 images and 11 videos.

Goodlett is currently serving nine years in federal prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges

Goodlett is currently serving nine years in federal prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges 

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

As the investigation widened, state police asked students who had cellphones confiscated to get in touch.

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.

At his sentencing nearly three years ago, Goodlett apologized to the victims and said he deserved to be punished for what he had done while in the throes of his pornography addiction. 

‘What I’ve done is morally reprehensible,’ he said in court. ‘Your honor, I deserve to go to prison. 

Goodlett is expected to be released in 2025. He must serve 10 years of supervised release and register as a sex offender. 

In November, he was also found guilty of more than 60 child pornography counts in state court, where he is due for a bond hearing next week. 


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