A former Kentucky school principal who confiscated students’ cell phones and distributed their nude photos online was sentenced to $ 3.6 million in damages.
A federal judge last week recommended the multimillion-dollar ruling against 40-year-old Stephen Kyle Goodlett, who was sentenced to nine years in prison in 2018 after pleading guilty to transporting and possessing child pornography, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.
Two years earlier, a 20-year-old woman in Elizabethtown had called the police to report that photos from her cell phone, taken in 2011, had appeared on a Russia-based porn website. This sparked an investigation that led to Corbett, the woman’s former headmistress.
The embarrassed educator later admitted looking in the students’ cell phones for explicit photos that he had covertly stored on USB sticks for online uploading and trading, as court records show.
Six of Goodlett’s victims sued him and the LaRue County School District over the health insurance system. They alleged that their former headmaster had ruined their reputation and violated their rights under the Fourth Amendment, other than improper searches and seizures.
A federal judge recommended dividing the damages payments of $ 3.6 million evenly – or $ 600,000 for each plaintiff. The judge also said any money reclaimed will be divided equally, the Courier-Journal reported.
“Many of the plaintiffs endured negative or lewd comments from family members, friends and acquaintances informing them that they had seen the plaintiffs’ nude or half-nude photos online,” wrote Judge Regina S. Edwards in her recommendation.
One of the women said she regularly worries that a new acquaintance or potential employer might know about the photos, while another said she has an “irrational fear of kidnapping” and an “inherent distrust of men” because of the actions by Goodlett.
They filed for $ 150,000 in damages, which Edwards said was “relatively modest,” and punitive damages of $ 450,000, the report said.
Goodlett, expected to be released from federal prison in April 2025, was found guilty in November in the Hardin Circuit Court, where he is scheduled for a bond hearing next week, Courier-Journal reported.
Goodlett acknowledged the gravity of his actions during his February 2018 conviction.
“What I have done is morally reprehensible,” said Goodlett. “Your Honor, I deserve to go to jail.”
Goodlett had also admitted to investigators addicted to pornography.
“I know what I did is horrible,” he told the judge. “I accept any punishment you pass on.”