Community members speak out amid molestation charges in Lone Grove

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CARTER COUNTY – As of Monday night an adult Sunday school leader and former teacher accused of molestation is out on bond. Now fellow members of the man’s Springer church are speaking out. Shelby Levins reports.

Gary Montgomery was arrested on Friday, for allegations that he had inappropriately touched a 7-year old girl. Now he has been charged with lewd molestation of a child. But members of Montgomery's church say the court of public opinion is different from the court of law, and a man is innocent until proven guilty.

Gary Kent Montgomery, 63, stood in front of a special district judge via video conference Monday afternoon. Montgomery is charged with lewd molestation of a child. But Montgomery didn't stand alone, members of his church stood in court too, to show their support.

"I'm kind of speechless, other than he's a fine man, he's a godly man,” Ken Campbell said.

Campbell was pastor of the First Southern Baptist Church in Springer when Montgomery joined almost 20 years ago. Campbell describes Montgomery as a good man who taught Agriculture at Springer Schools for 31 years and also served as chief of the Volunteer Fire Department.

"Since I've known him and especially since he's joined this church he's done as good as job as anybody I know in following the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ," Campbell explained.

Most recently Montgomery worked as an Ag assistant for Lone Grove High School. School officials declined to comment on camera, but confirmed Montgomery handed in his resignation last week, before his arrest.

Shawn Condon, the current pastor says Montgomery led adult Sunday school, and his music stand still remains part of the congregation's choir.

"Regardless of accusations in the court of public opinion the church still has a duty to minister its members,” Condon explained.

According to court records Montgomery doesn't have any prior offenses. The Carter County Sheriff's office tells us the alleged molestation happened in a residence, outside of the church and school where Montgomery worked.

Church leaders say these accusations still stun the Springer community.

"I'm shocked by these allegations because I never saw any indications of anything to be alarmed about,” Condon said.

"I've known him 30 years and it’s just a shock,” Campbell said.

We called Gary Montgomery’s home and spoke with him over the phone. He simply said he had no comment about the allegations.

The District Attorney's office tells us Montgomery has retained an attorney, and is scheduled to be back in court next month.

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