ELYRIA — Lorain County Clerk of Courts Ron Nabakowski said Tuesday that he’s unlikely to fire one of his deputy clerks, who pleaded guilty to gross sexual imposition charges for molesting an underage girl, if the man is given probation.
William Tyrone Montgomery, 52, is awaiting sentencing in the case before Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski. A sentencing date has not been set.
Nabakowski said immediately after Montgomery entered his guilty pleas that he wanted time to evaluate how to handle the situation with his longtime employee.
“It takes a lot to make me fire somebody,” he said Tuesday, noting that throughout his career he has tried to find ways to keep employees with problems on the job.
He said he might have to fire Montgomery if he receives a prison or jail sentence in the case but can’t say how he will deal with the situation until the case is wrapped up.
“I’m not going to do anything until he has his sentencing,” Nabakowski said.
According to court documents filed in the case, Montgomery began sexually abusing the girl, whose family he knew, while babysitting her in 1983, when she was 8 years old. The sexual encounters between them stretched into the 1990s, those same court documents said.
Prosecutors have said they had 20 years after the girl turned 18, which she did in August 1993, to bring charges against Montgomery. He was indicted just weeks before the statute of limitations in the case would have expired in 2013.
Additional charges of rape and sexual battery against Montgomery were dropped earlier this month as part of his plea agreement. He will have to register as a sexually oriented offender for 10 years under the terms of his plea.
Nabakowski’s employee handbook states that felony convictions “shall be grounds for dismissal,” but Assistant County Prosecutor Gerald Innes said that doesn’t mean an employee convicted of a felony must be fired.
Montgomery has remained on the job. Nabakowski said if Montgomery continues to work for him, it will be with the understanding that he cannot get in trouble again. He said he’s never had problems with Montgomery, who mostly works on computer systems and has little interaction with the public.
Nabakowski said despite Montgomery’s guilty plea in the case, Montgomery still disputes some of the allegations leveled against him by prosecutors. He also said although Montgomery’s crimes are in the justice system now, they took place long ago.
“He’s not that man anymore,” he said.
Nabakowski said he’s aware that many in the public have called for Montgomery to be fired, but that’s not something he’s comfortable doing just because it would be the popular move. The Democrat also said he’s freer than most politicians might be in this situation because he doesn’t intend to seek re-election in 2016.
“When you don’t have to run again, your conscience becomes the most important thing,” he said.
Montgomery’s attorney, Jack Bradley, declined to comment on his client’s employment.