Hampton, Va. – A woman whose lie sent an innocent man to prison entered a guilty plea on her felony perjury charge in Hampton Circuit Court Tuesday.
A Hampton grand jury indicted Elizabeth Coast on the charge last month; today the judge accepted her guilty plea.
Coast claimed Jonathan Montgomery forced her to perform oral sex when he was 14 and she was 10.
It wasn’t until 7 years later that Coast brought the charges forward, apparently using them as a way to explain being caught looking at sexually-explicit websites by her parents.
Montgomery was sent to prison, where he served more than 4 years before Coast recanted her story, telling a Hampton Police Officer who she worked with that the whole story was made up.
Even with that recantation, Montgomery stayed in prison after his release-order was blocked by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
That’s when NewsChannel 3 stepped in and fought for Montgomery’s release, asking Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to intervene.
McDonnell did intervene, giving Montgomery a conditional pardon that freed him from prison just two days before Thanksgiving.
Montgomery must still receive a Writ of Actual Innocence from the Virginia Supreme Court before his name can be completely cleared.
That process is on hold until after Coast’s case is resolved at the request of his attorneys.
In court Tuesday, special prosecutor Rick Newman of Hopewell presented two pieces of evidence: the transcript from Montgomery’s June 2008 trial as well as a handwritten confession from Coast.
Newman says he has not made any decisions about a sentencing recommendation.
Outside of court, Coast did not respond to any of NewsChannel 3’s questions.
Her attorney, Ron Smith, though said that the decision to plead guilty was hers alone.
“On her own, her to demand to me was that she would plead to this case and not contest it,” Smith explained. “She is pretty strong-willed about the position that she’s going to accept responsibility for what she did and that’s what she did today.”
Coast will be sentenced in Hampton Circuit Court on July 22.