Investigative Report Reveals Cozy Ties Between Polygraph Manufacturers and Government Employees Responsible for Polygraph Purchases

Marisa Taylor reports for McClatchy on the close ties between some public employees with influence over polygraph purchases and polygraph manufacturers. Excerpt:

WASHINGTON — When polygrapher Walt Goodson began moonlighting for a private company, he didn’t think the law enforcement agency he worked for would care. After all, his supervisor at the Texas Department of Public Safety had worked for his company’s competitor and had approved his outside job.

But after Texas investigators found his relationship with the polygraph manufacturer to be improper partly because of his involvement in a bid, Goodson agreed it looked bad, even describing some of the company’s arrangements as “kickbacks.”

“It’s the perception of the way everybody else sees it . . . ,” he told a Texas Department of Public Safety investigator in 2008. “It stinks.”

Public employees are supposed to avoid conflicts of interest such as Goodson’s because they could give a company an unfair advantage over competitors or create a greater expense for the public agency that’s buying a product. Even so, Goodson is one of 14 current or former law enforcement officers across the country who’ve been described by Lafayette Instrument Co. Inc. as dealers over the last six years, McClatchy has found. The officers’ listed sales territories have covered 22 states.

Lafayette, meanwhile, has become a leading manufacturer of polygraphs used by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies for employment screening, sex offender compliance and criminal investigations.

The Indiana-based company also has fostered strong ties with U.S. and international schools that train government polygraphers and with the professional organization that in turn certifies those polygraph schools. Goodson, for instance, no longer is listed as a dealer, but he now heads the ethics committee of the American Polygraph Association. Six other Lafayette dealers or consultants are listed as holding positions with either that organization or the American Association of Police Polygraphists. Seven directors of U.S. polygraph schools are listed as Lafayette representatives.

Their polygraphs also are becoming more popular abroad. In 2010, the State Department awarded the company a noncompetitive bid worth almost $2.4 million for 318 machines to be used by Mexico for its U.S-funded anti-corruption efforts. Lafayette lists dealers who head international polygraph schools, including one in Mexico.

Such relationships raise questions about the profession’s ability to assess criticism of the polygraphs. Lafayette manufactures the LX4000, which has been described as having a technical problem that can lead to inaccurate sweat measurements that may alter the outcome of a polygraph test, McClatchy has found. The problem can occur in other machines that use the same technology, but it hasn’t been thoroughly or independently studied.

McClatchy has obtained the record of a personnel complaint filed against Goodson by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Goodson ultimately received three days off duty without pay as a disciplinary action. See “Polygraph World’s Close Ties Spark Accusations of Favoritism” for the rest of the story.

Vice President of Polygraph Manufacturer Limestone Technologies Charged with Sexual Assault


Limestone Technologies VP Tyler Buttle at his arraignment
Limestone Technologies Vice President
Tyler Buttle at his arraignment

Limestone Technologies vice president Tyler Buttle faces a 5 June 2013 pre-trial hearing on charges of assaulting with intent to rape a woman he met at a conference on sexual abuse. The conference, held 10-12 April 2013 in Marlborough, Massachusetts and co-hosted by the Massachusetts Adolescent Sex Offender Coalition and the Massachusetts Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, was titled, “Preventing Sexual Violence Through Assessment, Treatment and Safe Management.”

According to CBS Boston, Buttle , who is married with one child, paid to attend the conference in order to sell equipment for Limestone. CBS describes the alleged assault thus:

Prosecutors say he met the woman while attending a conference on Thursday at the Best Western Royal Plaza in Marlborough.

According to the police report, the woman “obtained a ride” with Buttle later that night.

Prosecutor Julianne Richard says Buttle drove the woman from the Westender bar in Marlborough to a remote parking lot near the Pheasant Hill Community in Northborough, where he assaulted her.

Police say he reached under her dress, and touched her buttocks.

“The victim attempted to run away from the suspect, however the suspect ran after the victim, (led) her back to his vehicle, and assaulted her again,” the police report stated.

Investigators say the woman escaped a second time, ran off, hid in some bushes, and eventually knocked on the door of a home on Main Street around 2 a.m. in the rain.

The homeowner called 911 and police tracked down Buttle back at the Best Western, where he was staying.

A report by Matt Stout of the Boston Herald adds that according to Northboro Detective Sergeant Brian Griffin, the victim knocked at the homeowner’s door “soaking wet and barefoot.” A report by Sam Bonacci and Charlene Arsenault of  website MarlboroughPatch adds, “[B]uttle crashed his truck after leaving the scene of the assault, but the vehicle was drivable, with only minor damage to property on Main Street in Northborough, said police.”

Buttle, of Inverary, Ontario is free on $5,000 bail. According to MarlboroughPatch, the specific charges he faces are indecent assault and battery and assault with intent to rape.

Limestone Technologies of Odessa, Ontario, Canada is one of four major polygraph instrument manufacturers in North America. On his Linkedin profile, Buttle describes his responsibilities at Limestone thus:

Screen shot 2013-04-23 at 5.31.52 AM


Buttle also lists himself as a member of the American Polygraph Association and the American Association of Police Polygraphists.

Update: Tyler Buttle is not the first member of the polygraph community to face allegations of misconduct of a sexual nature:

  • RCMP polygrapher Donald Ray “was suspended for 10 days without pay, given a formal reprimand, and demoted one rank from staff sergeant” after an internal investigation sparked by an anonymous tip in 2009. Among other things, Ray reportedly exposed himself to a female subordinate and asked her to touch his penis;
  • In 2007, Australian polygrapher Charles Rahim was caught in a hidden camera investigation asking examinees non-pertinent questions about the most intimate details of their sexual behavior;
  • In 2010, polygraph operator Ronald P. Bae of Cottonwood, Alabama was indicted for felony sexual abuse;
  • In 2011, polygraph examiner William McCallister of Lake Wales, Florida was arrested for sexual assault, and in 2012 he was again arrested and charged with 31 counts of possession of child pornography;
  • In 1999, Eric J. Holden of Texas, a past president of the American Polygraph Association, was prohibited from serving as an instructor at the Texas Department of Public Safety Polygraph School after a sexual harassment complaint against him was sustained.