Police say a Department of Children and Families investigator has been charged with sexual battery, accused of abusing his authority and raping a woman he met through work.
According to the Lakeland Police Department, the first incident happened in December 2012. Police say 27-year-old Jason Conrad Montgomery was assigned to a case involving the victim's son. While at the residence to interview the victim, he allegedly asked the children in the house to leave and told their mother she "needed" to have sex with him.
According to police documents, he threatened to remove her kids from her custody if she didn't. Investigators say the woman resisted but felt helpless due to Montgomery's position with DCF.
"He solicited her and he sexually battered her," said Lakeland Police Sgt. Gary Gross. "We're all hurt by this. We rely on them to help us, just like people rely on the police officers, and when you get a situation like this, it's a betrayal of trust."
Several weeks after the first incident, police say Montgomery returned to the victim's house and sexually battered her again.
Lakeland police interviewed Montgomery. He reportedly denied having any sexual or personal interaction with the victim. But DNA evidence found at the victim's residence matched Montgomery's DNA profile.
"It was very surprising, really," said Charles Mathis.
Mathis has lived beside Montgomery in Bartow for the past year and a half. He said he never would have expected this.
"Especially in the position he's in, it's just disappointing to say the least," said Mathis.
Montgomery is no longer employed with DCF. He had been employed with the agency since October of 2011.
A spokesperson with DCF released this statement to ABC Action News Thursday evening:
The Florida Department of Children and Families has been notified of the arrest of a Polk County Child Protective Investigator by the Bartow Police on behalf of the Lakeland Police Department. The arrest, which took place today, came as a result of an ongoing law enforcement investigation. Mr. Montgomery, who submitted his resignation last week in light of an unrelated matter, had provided the agency with a two week notification prior to his final separation with the agency. However, given today's arrest, Mr. Montgomery was relieved of his position with the agency effectively immediately.
The Department removed Mr. Montgomery from all client contact earlier this year in light of an internal investigation, unrelated to his arrest. Shortly there after, the agency learned that Mr. Montgomery was under criminal investigation. His clearance to have client contact was not restored prior to his arrest.
We do not believe that the allegations brought against Mr. Montgomery today are a reflection on the dedicated and amazing team of child protective investigators who work every day to keep children in the Polk County community safe.
Montgomery is now facing two charges of sexual battery. He's expected to make his first appearance in court Friday morning.