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Prosecutor suspended over claim he pressured defendant for nude photos

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 5 days ago Jonathan Edwards
Kentucky elected prosecutor Ronnie Goldy Jr. testifies on Sept. 9 at a hearing about allegations that he provided legal favors in exchange for nude photos from a defendant. The Kentucky Supreme Court temporarily suspended Goldy's law license on Sept. 16. (WLEX) Kentucky elected prosecutor Ronnie Goldy Jr. testifies on Sept. 9 at a hearing about allegations that he provided legal favors in exchange for nude photos from a defendant. The Kentucky Supreme Court temporarily suspended Goldy's law license on Sept. 16. (WLEX)

Elected prosecutor Ronnie Goldy Jr. had spent about three years helping a defendant out of legal jams in exchange for nude photos of her, but on June 15, 2018, he asked for something more, court officials said.

“When do I get to see a video?” Goldy, the top prosecutor for several rural counties east of Lexington, Ky., allegedly asked her in a Facebook message.

“When am I not gonna have a warrant hahaha,” the woman countered, according to a court report.

“Lol. Good point,” Goldy allegedly replied before sending another message: “Incentives never hurt.”

Twelve days later, Goldy followed up, telling the woman she owed him “big time,” according to a report filed last week with the Kentucky Supreme Court. When the woman asked why, Goldy allegedly responded that the “Judge is about to withdraw some warrants.”

On Friday, the state Supreme Court temporarily suspended Goldy from practicing law for allegedly engaging in a quid pro quo relationship. For seven years, he did legal favors for the female defendant, demanding nude images and “sexual favors” in return, according to a report written by Jean Chenault Logue, a state judge who served as a special commissioner overseeing Goldy’s case.

When reached for comment, Goldy referred The Washington Post to his attorney, Tim Denison, who did not immediately respond early Tuesday. Denison told WLEX that his client never asked the woman for sexual photos or videos.

Under Kentucky law, a commonwealth’s attorney like Goldy can’t be removed from office except by impeachment. But Logue recommended Goldy’s suspension from practicing law, saying the inquiry commission had presented enough evidence to show that Goldy’s “professional misconduct poses a substantial threat of harm to the public.”

“He has abused his office, abused the trust of the public and brought the legal system of Kentucky into disrepute,” the Kentucky Bar Association’s chief bar counsel, Jane Herrick, said in a July 15 petition seeking his suspension.

The process to sideline Goldy started in mid-July when an inquiry commission with the state Supreme Court filed a petition seeking his temporary suspension. That filing came just days after the Louisville Courier-Journal published a July 12 article about Goldy’s messages to the defendant, which the commission referenced.

Goldy, who since 2013 has served as the elected commonwealth’s attorney in the region, told officials that he first met the woman in 2015 or 2016 when she was in a local jail, Logue said in her report.

Over the following years, Goldy helped the woman out of legal jams by pushing back court dates and making warrants for her arrest disappear, Logue’s report states. Goldy would frequently ask the woman, who is now 28, for nude pictures and videos in exchange, according to the report, and she would sometimes comply.

One such occasion started on May 3, 2018, when Goldy allegedly gave the woman $25 for gas. After she thanked him, Goldy allegedly responded in a message by saying, “Now your turn,” adding that she should not “leave me hanging.”

Goldy exchanged 230 pages’ worth of Facebook messages with the woman between 2018 and 2020, according to the Courier-Journal.

Herrick, the state bar association’s attorney, grilled Goldy about those messages during a five-hour hearing on Sept. 9. At the hearing, Goldy said he never abused his power as an elected prosecutor, Logue said in her report summarizing the case. He acknowledged that he communicated directly with the defendant using Facebook Messenger but when shown a binder full of messages that he allegedly sent the woman over the years, testified that he couldn’t tell whether they were his. “I don’t recall getting them,” he said.

“Mr. Goldy did not deny sending the messages, always stating he did not recall sending [them],” Logue noted.

Goldy at first denied receiving or asking the defendant for any nude photographs before admitting he’d received some on two occasions, Logue wrote. “He further acknowledged he did not handle it correctly but could not state what he did or did not say,” the report stated.

The woman told WLEX that her relationship with Goldy started as a personal one, and then she began feeling “that I owed him.”

“He always felt like I was always in debt to him. I never was equal. I always owed him,” she told the station, adding, “In hindsight, it was just something to keep me in debt to him.”

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