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Montimere indicted for sexual assault

6/8/2010

An Ector County, Texas grand jury indicted Guerdwich Montimere, a 22-year-old man accused of posing as a high school student and basketball star in West Texas, on five felony counts on Monday.

The grand jury returned two indictments against Montimere. The first contained two counts of sexual assault of a child.

Montimere was arrested on May 14 after a 16-year-old girl in Odessa told police and school district officials she had sex with him at a home in August when she thought he was 15-year-old Jerry Joseph.

The second indictment contained two counts of tampering with governmental records and one count of fraudulent use of identifying information.

Indicted for those same offenses was former teammate Jabari Caldwell as a party.

Montimere was originally arrested May 11 on a misdemeanor charge of failure to identify himself to a police officer, and school officials said he admitted that he wasn't Joseph. May 13, Montimere was released on $7,500 bond about five hours after his arrest on a felony charge of tampering with government documents.

Officials said Montimere enrolled at a junior high school and later at Permian High School last year with a fake birth certificate from Haiti. The Odessa American reported in May that Montimere was enrolled at Permian by Caldwell, who was a teammate of Montimere's at Dillard High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. According to the newspaper, Caldwell signed an affidavit that "Jerry Joseph" was his half-brother. Suspicions were raised after coaches at an amateur basketball tournament said they recognized Joseph as Montimere, a 2007 graduate of Dillard and a naturalized U.S. citizen from Haiti.

Caldwell, who had been playing at the University of Texas-Permian Basin, told the Odessa American that he helped Montimere enroll at Permian as a favor. Montimere, whose Haitian birth certificate says he was born on Jan. 1, 1994, was homeless in Fort Myers, Fla., after fleeing a hurricane in Haiti in 2008, the newspaper reported.

"He asked me if it was possible for me to help him enroll in school," Caldwell told the Odessa American in May. "I met him in Odessa. He came out here on a Greyhound."

Permian High School made the state basketball playoffs with Montimere helping lead the way as a sophomore star. Questions arose after the season, and Montimere was initially cleared by immigration authorities and allowed to return to the school.

Montimer was named the District 2-5A Newcomer of the Year. That honor was stripped in recent weeks, and the Panthers forfeited their 16 wins.

The investigation continued, and a fingerprint from a passport found in his room matched one taken by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents after the allegations surfaced, according to an affidavit. School officials said Montimere confessed after he was confronted with the new evidence.

Mickey Gaines, speaking for Montimer's court-appointed attorney, declined to comment.

Sexual assault of a child is a second-degree felony which carries punishment of two years to 20 years in the institutional division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Tampering with government records is also a second-degree felony. Fraudulent use of identifying information is a state jail felony and can carry a sentence of six months to two years in a state jail.

The grand jury found no wrong doing on the part of Ector County independent school district, Permian High School, the athletic department, or any persons identified with the above listed agencies.

State District Judge Denn Whalen set an arraignment date of June 16.

Montimer remained in the Ector County Detention Center on a $75,000 bond Tuesday. An arrest warrant will be issued for Caldwell, Bland said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.