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Virginia Attorney General blocks falsely accused Jonathan Montgomery’s release from prison

November 13, 2012

NCFM NOTE: Whatever happens you can be assured that false accuser Ms. Elizabeth Paige Cost will not suffer prison as did the young man she falsely accused, Jonathan Montgomery. Is it a double edged sword? If we start sending false accusers to jail we may discourage future false accusers while deterring those who have already falsely accused but may be considering recanting. We have to start somewhere. They need to be sanctioned, including prison terms if appropriate. Would you imprison Ms. Cost for her false accusation or thank her for recanting? Or, both?

By Larry O’Dell, Associated Press, 11/12/2012

Va. attorney general blocks innocent man’s release

David Montgomery was jubilant when a judge ordered his son freed from prison, exonerated after the woman who accused him of molesting her admitted the story was a fraud. But that abruptly turned to agony when Montgomery learned Virginia’s attorney general was keeping his son behind bars.

“It was just another twist of the knife,” Montgomery said in a telephone interview Monday. “They need to release my son.”

Jonathan Montgomery, 26, was convicted in 2008 of sexually assaulting Elizabeth Paige Coast. The accuser, then 17, claimed Montgomery assaulted her outside her grandmother’s house in Hampton in 2000 when he was 14 and she was 10. Montgomery was sentenced to 7½ years in prison.

The Associated Press does not typically identify alleged victims of sexual assault. However, Coast is being identified because authorities say she admitted to fabricating the story and she has been charged with perjury.

On Friday, Hampton Circuit Judge Randolph T. West tossed Montgomery’s felony convictions and ordered him released from prison.

But when relatives went to pick Montgomery up at the prison in Jarratt, they learned Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli’s office had declared the order invalid because the judge lacked jurisdiction.

“This is a tragedy, and the attorney general is very concerned about it,” Cuccinelli spokesman Brian Gottstein said in an email. “However, Virginia law will not allow the release.”

Montgomery likely will need to ask the state court of appeals to declare him innocent before he can be released, but Cuccinelli would support such a petition as he has in other wrongful conviction cases, Gottstein said.

Montgomery’s attorney, Ben Pavlek, said Monday that he would welcome help from the attorney general, but he still believes West’s order is valid. He said he has filed court papers asking that the Department of Corrections and the warden of the Jarratt prison be held in contempt of court.

Department of Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor acknowledged the attorney general said the order was invalid but declined further comment.

Montgomery’s father, who lives in Vale, N.C., and his attorney say the wrongly convicted man should not have to spend another day in prison.

“I used to actually believe everything about law enforcement and prosecution of criminals,” David Montgomery said. “This has severely degraded my faith in the system.”

Pavek said Montgomery is innocent and spent five years in prison based on a “total fabrication.”

“No crime took place, nothing happened,” Pavek said.

Montgomery’s case was first reported by The Daily Press. The Newport News newspaper reported that prosecutor Anton Bell strongly backed Pavek’s request to throw out Montgomery’s convictions and sentence, and West expressed regret for having convicted the man based on Coast’s testimony four years ago.

“You will never forget this, and God knows, I will never forget it,” West said.

Coast was arrested that same day on the perjury charge and released on bond. Neither Hampton Police nor the prosecutor responded to messages from The Associated Press on Monday, which was a federal holiday.

The AP could not locate a working telephone number for Coast. A woman who identified herself as Coast’s mother declined to provide any information, and it was unclear if Coast has an attorney.

Coast was working as a clerk for the Hampton police when she recanted her story. A person who answered the phone there said the woman no longer works for the city.

According to The Daily Press, Bell said at Friday’s hearing that Coast told investigators that her parents caught her looking at pornographic websites in 2007, so she concocted the story of prior sexual abuse to explain her behavior. Coast blamed Montgomery because his family had moved away and she didn’t think police would be able to track him down, Bell said.

It was not clear, however, why Coast decided to recant five years later.

David Montgomery said he has never doubted that his son is innocent.

“He wouldn’t hurt a flea,” he said. “When this happened, we were in shock.”


Free Jonathan Montgomery

Free Jonathan Montgomery, thank Elizabeth Paige Cost, then sanction her

Join the National Coalition For Men. Help us help you make the world a better place for all of us.

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6 Responses to Virginia Attorney General blocks falsely accused Jonathan Montgomery’s release from prison

  1. Marc A on November 15, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    This is outrageous. I just posted it on my FB page. Thank you NCFM for informing me about this.

  2. Steve Katsurinis on November 15, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    There is one way that Jonathan could be released immediately. The Governor of Virginia could commute his sentence. Please sign this petition to Governor McDonnell:

  3. Mishia on November 13, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    This is John’s mom…he needs to be free…I’m not understanding why the attorney general and departement of corrections are dragging feet on this…A representative of AG said that they were/are willing to work with John’s attorney on expiditing his release…NOT true! He is still in prison…AG office contacted me saying they didn’t even know who John was…REALLY??!!

    • Jessica on December 31, 2023 at 1:55 PM

      This is a long shot of a response, but my husband has been going through a similar situation. I don’t need to tell you how terrifying and painful it’s been. WE still haven’t gone to trial and it’s been almost 5 years. I can try to contact the Virginia courts for this but I need to know if Coast ever took a forensic interview with a psychologist specializing in sex cases. That is pretty standard practice now, but did a forensic interviewer ever back her up in court? Current child advocacy centers have no real way of detecting dishonesty in claims. The double standards are horrifying. An alleged victim is clearly a victim regardless of their demeanor, and the accused is clearly guilty regardless of their demeanor. It’s like trying to prove you aren’t crazy. Anyways, any help would be greatly appreciated. I am so, so glad your family was vindicated in this matter. It gives me hope that even if my husband gets convicted, it doesn’t have to end there.

  4. Amanda Montgomery on November 13, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    Please help us in freeing my brother, John. He is an innocent man and still imprisoned. This has been going on for 5 years now, and we are ready to take him home. A girl lied, a girl that I used to be friends with. Every summer I went to visit my father in Hampton, Va. she would come over to our house and we would play and have a good time. This was after the fact that the fabricated incident happened.
    We miss John, and despirately want him to come home. The Attorney General said that he would support the expedition of getting my brother out, yet he has yet to even make contact with our attorney, Ben Pavick.
    My heart breaks for all the men and women who have to go through this tragedy. Most of you will never know what it is like to open the door to officers ready to arrest your loved one on a fabricated story. But, we do appreciate your support,
    There is no law telling attorneys, judges, and prosecutors what to do after the fact that 2 years had past by for the writ of actual innocence to apply. That is why our attorney went to court Friday Nov. 9th asking the court to vacate convictions. The judge was doing what he thought was right, yet the attorney general thought he was wrong.
    I am asking for help in finding soneone that could do this pro-bono. To make a motion for a new law for the innocent. A law that could either stretch the statute of limitations of coming forth with new evidence that would help the convicted (be it perjury, DNA evidence, and so forth.) A law as such that will free the innocent the day the papers are signed. I want to call it John’s Law.
    Families are not supposed to go through this, EVER. I
    If you do know someone that could help us orchestrate this event and to the work pro-bono, please let us know. You may find contact info with most news stations in the Va., Charlotte, NC. areas.
    Thank You!
    Amanda, sister.

    • Gio Melina on November 23, 2012 at 3:07 AM

      I am shocked and outraged that this could ever happen! He was sentenced without a shred of evidence based on child’s lie. What a mockery of justice this has been.

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