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Principal Who Banned LGBTQ-Inclusive Book Indicted for Child Porn

Phillip Todd Wilson

A former Kentucky school principal who once tried to ban numerous books, including some with LGBTQ content, has been indicted by a grand jury on 17 child pornography counts.

Phillip Todd Wilson, 54, was charged last week with “11 counts of possession of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor and six counts of promoting a sexual performance by a minor,” The Winchester Sun reports. Both are felonies and carry a sentence of one to five years. He had been principal of the Clark Area Technology Center, a vocational center housed at George Rogers Clark High School in Winchester, but he is no longer employed there.

Wilson was arrested by Kentucky State Police in August and charged with 15 counts of each offense. Local media did not report why the grand jury charged him with fewer; the grand jury examined the evidence in closed proceedings. He pleaded not guilty upon his arrest and is free on bond, but police records say he admitted to sending images of child porn to two people, according to the Sun.

In 2008 and 2009, when Wilson was principal of Montgomery County High School in Mount Sterling, Ky., he joined with other administrators to remove several young-adult novels that had been listed as optional reading in English classes taught by Risha Mullins. Students weren’t required to read any of the books, but a parent of a student who had chosen Lessons From a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles emailed the principal, the superintendent, the school board, and Mullins, calling the book “soft pornography,” according to a blog post by the teacher.

In the novel, a teenage girl named Laine looks back on her friendship with Leah, who has died. There are some gay characters in the book, and at one point Leah coerces Laine into sex, claiming it’s practice for future relationships.

That book was pulled along with others including Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson, about a troubled high school senior; Deadline by Chris Crutcher, about a boy trying to live his best life with a terminal illness; and Unwind by Neal Shusterman, a novel set in a dystopian future in which teenagers’ organs can be harvested for transplantation.

The books were taken out of the classroom even though “not a single official challenge had been filed, as board policy required for a book to be suspended,” Mullins wrote in her post, which has now been deleted from the internet; archived excerpts were found and shared by other blogs, such as The C Word and Book Riot.

Knowles had written on Facebook in August that Wilson and the others removed her book because of “homosexual and other inappropriate content.” On the irony of the charges against Wilson, she commented, “You can’t make this shit up.”

And Anderson had remarked on Twitter in August regarding Wilson’s arrest, “Poisonous leaders use their power to protect their evil.” 

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