A Kentucky prosecutor accused of soliciting nude images from a defendant plans to fight efforts that would remove him from office.
Ronnie Goldy Jr., the commonwealth's attorney for the 21st Judicial Circuit, comprised of Bath, Menifee, Montgomery and Rowan counties, has been embroiled in scandal since July, when The Courier Journal first reported that he exchanged hundreds of Facebook messages with a defendant, allegedly promising favors in court in exchange for nude images of her.
The defendant, Misty Helton, later testified the messages were authentic and told a hearing officer for a bar inquiry commission that she and Goldy had sexual relations, with the prosecutor allegedly withdrawing warrants and getting her cases continued in exchange for the images.
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The Kentucky Supreme Court in September suspended Goldy from practicing law due to the allegations. But the court added it could not remove Goldy from office because that can only be done through impeachment, which is the province of the legislature.
A resolution to form a House committee in to investigate whether he should be removed from office was filed on the first day of the legislative session in January.
Though Goldy's letter in January responding to the impeachment committee has not been made public and his attorney has not responded to a request from The Courier Journal to share it, three commonwealth's attorneys who testified before the committee Thursday said they had reviewed Goldy's response that indicated he would challenge the allegations.
Commonwealth's Attorney Brian Wright of the 29th Judicial Circuit said Goldy's response was "attempting to somehow explain his conduct, and the conduct is just simply inexcusable."
Besides criticizing Goldy for his behavior displayed in the 125 pages of messages with Helton, the prosecutors accused Goldy of being evasive and "tap dancing" in his response.
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"There's an attempt to shift that these weren't requests for nude or naked images because those two specific words weren't used," Wright said. "And to me when you read the messages in the entirety, the context makes that a very disingenuous response and seems to be avoiding the obvious."
Wright added that if the messages are authentic, their full context clearly shows Goldy's conduct was "egregious" and "an extremely compromised exercise of his discretion, which doesn't lend itself to just being rehabilitated or cured or changed in the future."
While removing a prosecutor from office is a serious action, Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders said Goldy's behavior warranted it, asking "if not now, when?"
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Meanwhile, another state prosecutor targeted with impeachment, Rick Boling of the 3rd Judicial Circuit in Christian County, informed the House committee in January that he would retire from office at the end of February.
The committee has not yet dismissed its inquiry against Boling, which involved allegations that he cited false information when seeking a pardon from former Gov. Matt Bevin in a brutal sodomy conviction and misled a jury in an arson case.
Under Kentucky law, if impeachment is recommended by a House committee, it can draft articles of impeachment to be taken up by the full House. If impeached by the House, the official would then be tried in the Senate, where a conviction requires the vote of at least two-thirds of the senators present.
Per the state constitution, any "civil officers" can be impeached "for any misdemeanors in office."
Reach reporter Joe Sonka at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @joesonka.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky prosecutor Ronnie Goldy to fight House impeachment inquiry
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