ELYRIA — The Lorain County commissioners are looking for a way to bar a deputy clerk of courts who is awaiting sentencing on gross sexual imposition charges from county property.
But County Administrator Jim Cordes and Assistant County Prosecutor Gerald Innes, who are researching the issue, both said so far they haven’t found a legal way that would prevent William Tyrone Montgomery from going to work.
“We certainly cannot ban him from being in a public building,” Innes said.
Cordes said that the only criminal charges that would lead to an automatic discharge of a county employee under Ohio law are crimes of theft, deception or fraud. Sex offenses aren’t on that list, he said.
Montgomery, 52, has remained on the county payroll since he was indicted in August just weeks before the statute of limitations would have expired on the charges that he molested a girl beginning in 1983, when she was 8 years old.
According to prosecutors, who dropped additional rape and sexual battery charges when Montgomery pleaded guilty earlier this month, the sexual abuse continued for years.
Clerk of Courts Ron Nabakowski said earlier this week that he probably won’t fire Montgomery if Montgomery receives probation in the case, but he won’t make any final decision until Montgomery, who could receive prison time, is sentenced.
A sentencing date has not been set.
Under the terms of the plea deal, Montgomery will have to register as a sexually oriented offender for 10 years.
Commissioner Tom Williams, who proposed finding a way to force Nabakowski to fire Montgomery, said virtually every other business or government office would have fired someone who pleaded guilty to sex crimes involving an underage victim.
“It’s a shame really because Nabakowski has it within his rights to go through and fire this individual,” he said. “Now I’m trying to find a way to force Mr. Nabakowski to do the right thing.”
Nabakowski said Wednesday he isn’t surprised by the commissioners’ efforts given the public outcry over Montgomery’s employment status. But he also said that although the case is in the justice system now, the crimes themselves are far in the past.
“He did some horrible stuff that I despise, but that was 25 years ago,” he said.
Williams’ fellow commissioners, Ted Kalo and Lori Kokoski, both said they would have fired Montgomery if he worked for them, but they also doubt there’s much they can do to compel another elected official to take action.
“If it was one of my employees I would not keep him on, but it’s not my call,” Kokoski said.
Williams said he’s received multiple calls from the public about Montgomery and if Nabakowski doesn’t relent, he and others might seek to have Nabakowski removed from office.
Innes said in order to remove a county elected official from office Williams would need to gather a certain number of people to join him in filing legal action and it would be up to a county judge to decide whether Nabakowski was guilty of malfeasance or misfeasance in his duties and issue a court order removing him from office.
Nabakowski declined to comment on Williams’ suggestion that he would try to remove him from office, and Williams himself acknowledged it would be a difficult task. Williams said such an effort would have to include other allegations of wrongdoing by Nabakowski in order to succeed.
Nabakowski said this week that he doesn’t intend to seek re-election in 2016 and that he is following his conscience by keeping Montgomery, who works on computer systems and has little interaction with the public.
Williams said given the level of public anger and his own concerns about Montgomery walking around a county building wearing county identification, he feels he has little choice but continue looking for a legal way to get rid of Montgomery.
“There’s a lot of outrage that Nabakowski would side with a guy who pleaded guilty to being a child molester,” Williams said.