Panama City Man Falsely Accused of Rape Remains in Jail

A Bay County family has been living a nightmare for the last 4-years. Their son was wrongfully convicted of rape in Hampton, Virginia, and was sentenced to prison. His accuser has now admitted she made up the story. But, the young man is still behind bars.

"Just got a call from the warden. He said we could go down there and pick up our son. It should be within the next hour." That moment never came.

Instead of getting out of prison, Jonathan Montgomery is still locked up, four days after a judge ordered his release.

He was convicted of sex crimes against a ten year old. Elizabeth Coast didn't bring the accusations forward for 7 years, then last month, she admitted it was a total lie.

In Hampton Circuit Court Friday the charges were vacated and Montgomery's release was ordered. But, the family's tears of joy and hugs would soon be replaced with anger. The release was blocked at the last minute by a lawyer from the Virginia Attorney General's office.

Ben Pavek is the chief Deputy Public Defender. "There is a purely innocent man whose life was taken from him based on the word of one individual 5 years ago, who we now all know had made the entire thing up. And the former defendant is still sitting in a Virginia prison under no legal authority whatsoever."

In a statement responding to investigation, a spokesman for the Attorney General's office calls what has happened to Jonathan Montgomery a quote- "terrible tragedy". However he says the Hampton Circuit Court doesn't have jurisdiction to make the release order.

Pavek says that's absurd. "Judge West ordered it. It`s a matter of a court order being followed. It's as simple as that. And-it has not been followed by the Department of Corrections."

The Attorney General's office says a Writ of Innocence needs to filed to release Montgomery.
Pavek says that could take weeks. "Having the order enforced would be faster than filing a writ of actual innocence."

So Pavek will go to court to get the order enforced and ask that the department of corrections be held in contempt of court.

As for the woman who has caused this whole mess, Elizabeth Coast is out on bond after being charged with felony perjury. We went looking for her in Hampton. "She doesn't live here, hasn't lived here in several years." "Okay" Her grandmother and other family members refusing to talk before closing the door.

Coast reportedly said she lied after her parents caught her looking at pornographic computer sites. She told investigators she chose Montgomery because his family had moved away and police wouldn't be able to find him.

Montgomery attended school her in bay county, and still has family living here. They say when he’s released from prison he’ll be returning home here.

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