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High school impostor now faces sexual assault charge

The strange case of Guerdwich Montimere, the 22-year-old Fort Lauderdale man who posed as a Texas high school basketball player, took a sordid turn Friday.

Montimere, a 2007 Dillard High School graduate, turned himself in to Odessa police after he was charged with sexual assault, a second-degree felony.

Since February 2009, Montimere has been living in Odessa and posing as Jerry Joseph, a 16-year-old orphan from Haiti. School officials and media outlets received anonymous tips in late April that Joseph was actually Montimere, a 22-year-old who helped lead the Dillard basketball team to a berth in the state tournament.

According to a statement released by Odessa police, a 16-year-old girl approached Ector County Independent School officials, as well as local police, and told them she'd been involved in a relationship with Montimere.

The victim also told authorities that in August, 2009, she and Montimere had sex at a private residence in east Odessa.

The statement went on to say that "based on the information provided by the victim, investigators determined that Montimere intentionally and knowingly engaged in a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old juvenile and portrayed himself to be 15 years old."

He was 21 at the time.

Bond was set at $50,000. Montimere remained in jail late Friday. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Permian High School Principal Roy Garcia said that when Montimere's true identity was established, the school's investigation widened to determine if he'd had any kind of inappropriate relationship with a fellow student.

"We really did not see him with a girl in that way in the halls or anything like that," Garcia said. "But after everything came out, we did check. During our check, someone came forward and we let the police know."

Garcia declined to comment on whether a student or parent approached school officials.

Friday's arrest marked the third time this week Montimere has faced charges after pretending to be a student at Permian High.

First, Montimere was charged with presenting false identification to a peace officer, a misdemeanor, and released from jail Wednesday on $500 bond.

Thursday, Montimere was charged with tampering with governmental records, a third-degree felony. Again, he was released, this time on $7,500 bond.

At the Mission Dorado Baptist Church, where Montimere was a regular while posing as Joseph, student ministries coordinator Maurie Bratcher declined to comment on the latest arrest.

Instead, she referred to a statement posted on the website that states the church community does not believe Montimere was involved with any young parishioners.

"Jerry never attended any of our youth social events. Many in the press have questioned how many 'inappropriate relations' Jerry had with girls in our church," the statement reads. "The answer is quite simple — none. He was never alone or unattended with any of us girls and he never pursued a relationship that exceeded friendship with anyone."

At Permian, basketball coach Danny Wright, with whom Montimere lived while posing as Joseph, said Montimere had been flirtatious but that he'd never brought a date home to meet the Wright family.

Wright added that he hadn't spoken to Montimere since his first arrest, but that he'd received apologetic text messages.

After learning of Montimere's most recent arrest, Wright expressed sadness.

"I wish I could hug him," Wright said. "I love him. I hate to think what state of mind the kid has been in to erase his past and live a totally different life."

Reached at her home in South Florida, Montimere's mother tried to come to terms with the latest twist in the saga enveloping her son.

While posing as Joseph, Montimere claimed to be an orphan. Manikisse Montimere, of Tamarac, said the pair haven't spoken in two years.

"I just don't know what to say now," Manikisse Montimere said. "It's hard to think something like this could happen."