RIVER RIDGE, La. — This story was developed with our partners at the Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate
Authorities are investigating the husband of a St. Martin’s Episcopal School board member over allegations that he may have set up cameras in the couple’s River Ridge home to spy on international students from Honduras whom the couple hosted, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation.
As a result of the probe, the board member, Amy Goodman, was forced to step down from her duties on the Metairie private school’s board of trustees last week, the body’s president, Patrick Comer, confirmed Tuesday.
Though Comer declined to comment on any investigation focusing on the home Goodman shares with her husband, Patrick Goodman, he added: “Our primary job is to protect the safety of our students and community. … We are cooperating fully with law enforcement’s investigation.”
He added: “We’re shocked and horrified to hear of this, especially as it’s a family that used to volunteer for St. Martin’s through the international student hosting program.”
Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Capt. Jason Rivarde, a spokesperson for the agency, confirmed the investigation Tuesday, but said he could not provide any details.
“We have an ongoing investigation and for the sanctity of that investigation we would decline to comment at this time,” Rivarde said. “We have not made an arrest and we are actively investigating.”
The investigation was set into motion after law enforcement received information about at least one camera found in a bedroom where hosted students would stay.
The information led Jefferson Parish detectives to the Goodmans’ home in River Ridge earlier this month with a search warrant. The sheriff’s office declined to say anything about what may have been found or confiscated from the house, but an attorney for Amy Goodman said various pieces of digital equipment were removed.
St. Martin’s board members found out about the investigation shortly afterward. Within a week the school had removed Amy Goodman’s name from a list of board members posted on its website.
Sources close to the case say that the potential crime under investigation is the rarely used “video voyeurism” statute, a felony sex crime in which a person uses a recording device to capture footage of another person without their consent “for a lewd or lascivicious purpose.”
In many cases, anyone convicted of video voyeurism faces a maximum of two years in prison and must register as a sex offender.
When reached by telephone Tuesday, Patrick Goodman said, “Unfortunately, I can’t make any comment. Thank you.”
Amy Goodman, for her part, said: “I have absolutely no comment.”
Both Goodmans are 65 years old. He is an engineer; she is a bank executive.
For about five years, St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in Metairie has been sponsoring two students annually from a school in Tela, Honduras, to study at St. Martin’s, whose campus on Green Acres Road serves roughly 470 students in pre-K through 12th grade.
The Goodmans have hosted many of the participating students, including one last year.
This year, a Honduran student attending St. Martin’s through the international study program was being hosted by a family other than the Goodmans. The Goodmans nonetheless befriended her and had her over for a visit on or about Nov. 12.
During that visit, the student found a camera in the bedroom where the hosted students typically stay, and the device appeared to be streaming footage, recording it, or both, multiple sources with insight into the investigation said. The sources said the girl took the camera’s memory card and -- after conferring with other adults -- decided to turn it over to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, which has jurisdiction of River Ridge.
Amy Goodman and her husband have retained separate attorneys, not uncommon in a case such as this. Patrick Goodman’s attorney, Dylan Utley, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Amy Goodman’s attorney, Jeffrey Smith, confirmed deputies subsequently served a search warrant on the Goodmans’ home and confiscated various pieces of digital equipment. Smith said the couple had cameras that could show “their whole house, even the living room,” but declined to elaborate further.
Amy Goodman’s resignation from the St. Martin’s board isn’t the only conspicuous change in the wake of the Sheriff’s Office’s investigation.
St. Augustine, which is not affiliated with the similarly-named Catholic school in New Orleans, by Monday night had scrubbed its website of all mentions of Patrick Goodman. Goodman for years had run a pumpkin patch at the church in the weeks leading up to Halloween.
He was there as recently as the day before Halloween, helping the church sell the last of its pumpkins. As October arrived this year, the website was calling for volunteers at the pumpkin patch and directing them to call Patrick Goodman.
The website’s administrators also removed a number of updates that listed Patrick Goodman as an usher for Sunday services. Those same updates had listed some of the Honduran boys and girls who had gone to St. Martin’s as part of the international studies program as lay readers or priest servers.
St. Augustine’s officials didn’t immediately respond to a written request for comment about the investigation Tuesday. A person who picked up the church’s telephone said there was no one there that could discuss it.