Finally Free

November 12, 2012


Gov. Bob McDonnell granted a conditional pardon to Johnathon Montgomery, who has been falsely imprisoned since 2008.  "It feels awesome," Montgomery told

His accuser, Elizabeth Coast, recanted her story nearly two weeks ago of a sexual assault that she claimed happened when she was 10 and Montgomery was 14.  "It's just too awful what she did," Montgomery said Tuesday. "There's nothing to say. I have to get into my life again. She has to deal with consequences."  Tuesday afternoon, McDonnell ordered Montgomery's immediate release from Greensville Correctional Center the day after the Mid Atlantic Innocence Project filed a conditional pardon petition to the governor.

"Finally, after five years, we've been going through this, my boy is finally free," Montgomery's father Dave Montgomery said. "He's finally coming home. I can finally breathe again."  Montgomery was sentenced to spend 7.5 years in prison in 2008 for the 2000 sexual assault of Coast.

Coast, while working for the Hampton Police Division, admitted to a detective she had fabricated the story. She has since been charged with felony perjury.  A judge then tossed out Montgomery’s conviction, but Montgomery remained behind bars.  Last week, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said a Hampton judge did not have proper jurisdiction to waive Montgomery's conviction under the Virginia Court of Appeals.  Tuesday evening, the Governor personally delivered the news of his pardon to Montgomery, as well as his parents.