A jury returned a verdict of guilty in the trial of a Marshall County man charged with child rape.
The six-man, six woman jury deliberated for nearly an hour Thursday before declaring that Paul Alexander Montgomery III, 39, of Poarch Hollow Road was guilty as charged.
Montgomery had been free on $30,000 bond, but revocation of bond is mandatory after conviction for a Class A felony, so Judge Robert Crigler revoked the bond and sent Montgomery to the county jail until sentencing on Sept. 23.
Montgomery did not testify at his own trial. He remained expressionless throughout the trial and when the verdict was read.
Then, he handed his valuables to his wife and embraced her before being handcuffed and led away.
Montgomery was indicted by the Grand Jury in February. The nine-count indictment alleges that Montgomery performed a variety of sexual acts with a child under 13 years of age on three separate occasions: September 2003, December 2004, and between April 1 and May 31, 2005.
The child, who was 14 when she made the accusations last summer. That was after she was taken into the custody by the Department of Children's Services.
Lisa Dupree, the social worker who interviewed the victim at the Our Kids Center at Nashville General Hospital, wrote in her report, "She was afraid for anyone her own age to know what really went on...(she) said she was afraid she would cause other kids her age to lose their innocence if they knew what her life was really like."
Assistant District Attorney Eddie Barnard questioned the victim for 90 minutes about the sex acts that she and the defendant allegedly performed on the dates named in the indictment.
She testified that, in addition to those dates, they engaged in sexual activities from 10 to 25 times starting after her ninth birthday in 2002 and May 2005.
"Have you ever had to do anything in your life that was harder than this?" Barnard asked the victim at the end of her testimony.
"No," she whispered, almost in tears.
When Barnard asked her why so much time elapsed between the end of the offences and telling anyone, the victim answered that it had taken her that long to realize "someone might actually believe me if I told, and that it wouldn't be my fault."
At the end of his closing argument for the prosecution, Barnard told the jury, "I just ask one thing: Do justice in this case."
Attorney Michael Collins of the public defender's office said, "This is as hard as it gets."
With his colleague, William F. Harold, Collins presented witnesses who called the facts of the girl's testimony into question, and alleged that she had invented the accusations for reasons of her own.
When asked if she would consider the victim "manipulative," a close relative who testified for the defense, replied, "I'd say so."
"What she has said is fantasy," Collins asserted. "The victim did not grow up with a firm grasp on reality. This group (of five or six adults, including the defendant) had difficulty understanding where reality ends and fantasy begins. No one had a normal life.
"I don't expect you all to like Mr. Montgomery," Collins continued. "What we're asking for is fairness."