Man freed after four years in prison after woman admits to fabricating sexual assault claim

Elizabeth Paige Coast 
By: Anika Rao 

(Scroll down for video) An innocent man spent 4 years in prison after a woman falsely accused him of sexual assault, according to reports.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell issued a conditional pardon on Tuesday, for the man who has served four years in prison for a sexual assault. His accuser now claims it never took place.

Johnathan Montgomery, who was jailed at the Greensville Correctional Center, left Tuesday night, McDonnell's office said.

"It is a travesty of justice when an innocent person is confined in a jail or prison. This should never happen in our society," McDonnell said in a statement.

Montgomery, 26, was convicted in 2008, of sexually abusing Elizabeth Paige Coast. The woman, then 17, said Montgomery assaulted her in front of his grandmother's house in Hampton in 2000, when he was 14 and she was 10. Montgomery was sentenced to 7 and a half years in prison.

Authorities said that Coast admitted to fabricating the story and she has been charged with perjury.
Earlier this month, Hampton Circuit Judge Randolph T. West canceled the felony convictions of Montgomery and ordered him out of jail.

When the family went to pick up Montgomery at prison, they learned that the Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli, had declared the order invalid, saying that the court lacked jurisdiction.

Under Virginia law, only the Court of Appeals may exonerate Montgomery or the governor could pardon him. Montgomery could also be free pending his petition for a writ of actual innocence.

McDonnell’s Office said it received the request for conditional pardon by Montgomery's lawyers on Monday night, allowing him to take immediate action to free Montgomery.