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Retrial begins for Gulfport man accused of raping, humiliating women

LARGO — It's unusual when attorneys have to ask potential jurors to describe how well they can handle graphic and disturbing testimony.

But that's what attorneys did Tuesday morning in the sexual battery trial of Michael Lee Montgomery, a marine mechanic from Gulfport.

Montgomery is on trial this week on charges that he raped, and in two cases smeared feces on, women he picked up in St. Petersburg.

Montgomery has admitted having or attempting to have sex with the three women who have accused him of raping them, but he says it was consensual. The defense says all three women were prostitutes. Prosecutors say one of the women worked as a prostitute but she did not agree to what Montgomery did to her.

Assistant State Attorney William Loughery said Montgomery allowed police into his home, where they found many Polaroid photos of women in acts resembling what the women accused him of.

Assistant Public Defender Athena Thanos said Montgomery would take the witness stand in his own defense and acknowledge hiring prostitutes to have sex.

He has been a difficult man to convict. He was arrested in Sarasota in 1996 in what police thought was virtually an ironclad rape case, but most charges were dropped, apparently because of inconsistent victim statements.

Montgomery was tried in Pinellas County on newer charges last year, but a jury found him not guilty of two counts of false imprisonment and one count of sexual battery. The jury could not reach a verdict on three other counts of sexual battery.

Retrial begins for Gulfport man accused of raping, humiliating women 01/12/10 [Last modified: Thursday, January 14, 2010 6:08pm]

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