Share story

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Five former students are suing a school district and their high school principal, who was fired after being accused of uploading nude images from confiscated cellphones.

Lawyers for the women say former LaRue County High School Principal Stephen Kyle Goodlett and the Kentucky county’s school district violated protections against unreasonable search and seizure and violated Title IX, the federal law prohibiting discrimination based on sex in education.

Goodlett, who was fired last October, pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges stemming from uploaded nude images of one student whose cellphone he confiscated. He has pleaded not guilty to 63 state child porn charges.

LaRue County Superintendent Sam Sanders declined on Thursday to comment on the suit. Goodlett’s attorney in the federal criminal case didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Attorney Joseph H. Mattingly III filed for class-action status last week on behalf of the plaintiffs, who are identified by initials and have asked to remain anonymous. Mattingly says attorneys believe there are more than 50 others who could join the suit, which asks for compensatory and punitive damages.

“The plaintiffs have suffered great embarrassment and emotional distress arising from the fact that school administrators … as well as unknown member of the general public, have seen the photographs and other images stored privately on the cellular telephones.”

Goodlett admitted to Kentucky State Police investigators that he has a pornography addiction, and that as principal of LaRue County High School he searched for nude pictures on phones confiscated from students, said Department of Homeland Security Special Agent Brady Oberholtzer in a federal complaint in the criminal case.

The former students’ lawsuit says the photos were not easily accessible, Goodlett did not have the students’ permission to access information in their cellphones and he did so “despite a complete lack of reasonable suspicion.” It says the only students to be targeted were females.

Goodlett is accused of uploading the photos to one or more internet sites with the intent of trading them for more images.

The lawsuit says other administrators at the high school were aware that Goodlett searched students’ phones and the school district knew or should have known about his conduct.

It also says the district did not have policies to document who had custody of confiscated phones or to protect the confidential information they contained.