The saga of Guerdwich Montimer* has officially come to an end.
(*Previously, we've been spelling the last name "Montimere," but according to the Odessa American article linked below, Montimer's passport and Social Security card identify him as "Guerdwich Montimer." So that's what we'll call him, I guess.)
On Wednesday, Montimer appeared before 70th District Court Judge Denn Whalen, who asked "Are you Guerdwich Montimer?" After replying in the affirmative -- "Yes, yes sir I am," Montimer said -- he plead guilty to two counts of sexual assault of a child and three counts of tampering with government records, according to the Odessa American. Montimer will serve three years in prison for each count, which will run concurrently, and he will get credit for time served for the year he's spent in prison since the scandal over his identity erupted over a year ago.
By now, you'll know Montimer as Jerry Joseph, a 16-year-old basketball star for Permian High School in Odessa, Tex. Except Montimer wasn't really 16. He was 22. When coaches from Florida saw him play at an AAU tournament in Arkansas, they began asking questions about his identity. The government began looking into those questions, and discovered that he had lied about his identity and -- in the most drastic turn in the case -- had sex with a 15-year-old schoolmate under the guise of his 16-year-old identity.
As Diamond noted two weeks ago, Montimer's story was chronicled in this month's issue of GQ, and the story remains a must-read for anyone who finds this tale appropriately fascinating. Montimer arrived in Odessa with little more than a bag of clothes, and he had claimed he was an orphan in Haiti who had stowed away on a boat to America seeking a second chance. Odessa coach Danny Wright, seeing Montimer's hoops talent, adopted him, and the GQ story begins with a touching portrait of "Jerry's" first holiday season with the family.
When Montimer was approached at the famed AAU tournament, he pretended not to know a former coach from Florida. When the principal of Permian high school confronted Montimer with two photos -- one of him playing for Permian, the other of him in a uniform in Florida -- Montimer said he had no idea who the "other" person was. Even during the investigation, Montimer stuck by his story. Only Wednesday, when asked in a court of law at his plea hearing, did he finally confirm his real identity.
It's about as weird a story as you'll ever hear. You wonder: What if Montimer hadn't been spotted at the AAU tournament? Would he have eventually been caught anyway? Or would he still be Jerry Joseph?