Virginia Man Released From Prison After Four Years For Crime He Did Not Commit

Freed Virginia Inmate Johnathon Montgomery

Last month, a woman who accused Virginia inmate Johnathon Montgomery of sexually assaulting her when Montgomery was 14 and she was 10 completely recanted that testimony. A judge ordered Montgomery freed shortly thereafter at the urging of both the local prosecutors and Montgomery’s defense attorneys.

Yet, thanks to a quirk of Virginia law, Montgomery nearly lost his opportunity to spend this Thanksgiving with his family — Virginia law prevents lower court judges from issuing such orders more than 21 days after trial, and Montgomery spent nearly four years in prison.

To his credit, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) sidestepped this problem by granting Montgomery a conditional pardon allowing him to be freed before a court can act. Under McDonnell’s pardon, Montgomery must file a “writ of actual innocence” within 30 days of his release from prison. He also will remain on probation and will be forced to register as a sex offender pending further court action.