The supreme court of the commonwealth of Kentucky has temporarily suspended a prosecutor after it was discovered that he had repeatedly requested nude photos from a defendant in exchange for prosecutorial favors.
On Friday, the commonwealth supreme court issued its suspension of Ronnie Goldy, who has been the commonwealth’s attorney for Rowan, Bath, Menifee, and Montgomery Counties since 2013. According to investigations, Goldy has been caught requesting — and receiving — nude photos of incarcerated defendant Misty Helton of Salt Lick. The Courier Journal reported that since their meeting in 2015 or 2016, Goldy and Helton have exchanged 230 pages of messages on Facebook Messenger. During their conversations, Goldy repeatedly promised to do legal favors for Helton in return for the photos.
For example, after Helton sent him a series of nude photos of herself in May 2018, Goldy replied, “Wow Nice I do have most of those I think But they are very nice I’m sure you have some even better.” Then later that summer, Goldy told Helton that she “owed” him a video and that “It better be worth the wait.”
Through the years, Goldy had warrants against Helton withdrawn and court cases continued on her behalf.
At a hearing on September 8, Helton also claimed that she had had a sexual relationship with Goldy and that she “believed [Goldy] always felt like she was in debt to him with sexual favors.”
“Being in debt to the commonwealth’s attorney is like a life sentence for somebody in the justice system,” she said at the hearing.
Goldy testified that he did not remember sending the messages, but he did not deny doing so either.
An Inquiry Commission, appointed by the Kentucky Supreme Court, likewise determined that Goldy “showed a complete disregard” for the rules against communicating with defendants without counsel present. It also found that Goldy likely “abused his power by using his official position as Commonwealth Attorney to provide Ms. Helton with assistance in criminal matters for her benefit while he expected and requested actions of a sexual nature from her for his benefit.”
Despite the overwhelming evidence of Goldy’s unethical conduct, the court admitted in its ruling that it cannot remove Goldy from office. According to Kentucky law, only impeachment by the General Assembly can remove him. However, Goldy still faces permanent disbarment, he must inform all of his clients that he can no longer represent them, and he must cease and desist all advertisements and public promotions.
It is unclear what kind of criminal charges Helton has faced and/or is currently facing.