A suspended northwestern Pennsylvania high school teacher has been fired after pleading guilty to federal charges that he produced child pornography featuring two boys he knew, and faces a recommended 32-year prison sentence, plus an upcoming trial on state charges that he molested one of the same boys for several years.
Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy in Erie immediately fired 43-year-old David Montgomery after his guilty plea on Monday.
The school suspended Montgomery after his initial arrest two years ago on charges that he molested a 12-year-old boy who visited Montgomery's home for Christmas in 2010.
Montgomery also was charged with molesting the boy's younger brothers, ages 9 and 6, but those charges were thrown out before trial after the youngest boy balked when asked at a pretrial hearing whether he understood the difference between truth and a lie.
Montgomery was then acquitted, in May, of charges he molested the oldest brother -- and by then another accuser had come forward.
That boy, born in 1995, accused Montgomery in April of molesting him repeatedly from age 8 to 15. Those allegations prompted authorities to search Montgomery's home, where they found child pornography that Montgomery had produced featuring that boy and another boy, identified in court papers only as having been born in 2002, as well as child pornography produced by others.
Montgomery's defense attorney, Gene Placidi, said he's still hopeful that the Erie County district attorney might dismiss the related molestation charges which are set for a Common Pleas Court trial in January. District Attorney Jack Daneri said Tuesday he has no plans to drop those charges.
Placidi said Montgomery pleaded guilty in federal court, despite the hefty sentence he faces, because he could have faced life in prison had he been convicted on those charges and others federal authorities threatened to bring, including transporting a minor across state lines for sexual purposes.
"Both the prosecution and defense are agreeable to a 32-year sentence," Placidi said. U.S. District Judge David Cercone did not immediately schedule a sentencing date.
The federal charges Montgomery acknowledged Monday stem from at least eight incidents between July 2005 and July 2010 involving the boy born in 1995, while Montgomery acknowledged making pornography featuring the other boy once in August 2010.
At a detention hearing on the federal charges in June, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian Trabold told a federal magistrate judge that the pornography found at Montgomery's home included a picture of a naked boy lying on Montgomery's bed, covered in money.
U.S. Magistrate Susan Paradise Baxter jailed Montgomery after that hearing partly because of Trabold's assertion that some of the child pornography resulted from "a long-standing child sex-abuse case that Mr. Montgomery took great pains to memorialize."
Erie School District spokesman Matt Cummings told the Erie Times-News, which first reported Montgomery's guilty plea, that officials were "horrified by the federal charges" and immediately fired Montgomery after his conviction. Prosecutors haven't said whether the victim born in 1995 attended the school where Montgomery had been a social studies teacher; the other alleged victims were all too young.
District officials "look forward to putting this situation behind us," Cummings said.