HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) - Gov. Bob McDonnell granted a conditional pardon to Johnathon Montgomery, who has been falsely imprisoned since 2008.
"It feels awesome," Montgomery told WAVY.com.
His accuser, Elizabeth Coast, recanted her story nearly two weeks ago of a sexual assault that she claimed happened when she was 10 and Montgomery was 14.
"It's just too awful what she did," Montgomery said Tuesday. "There's nothing to say. I have to get into my life again. She has to deal with consequences."
Tuesday afternoon, McDonnell ordered Montgomery's immediate release from Greensville Correctional Center the day after the Mid Atlantic Innocence Project filed a conditional pardon petition to the governor.
"Finally, after five years, we've been going through this, my boy is finally free," Montgomery's father Dave Montgomery said. "He's finally coming home. I can finally breathe again."
Montgomery was sentenced to spend 7.5 years in prison in 2008 for the 2000 sexual assault of Coast.
Coast, while working for the Hampton Police Division, admitted to a detective she had fabricated the story. She has since been charged with felony perjury.
A judge then tossed out Montgomery's conviction, but Montgomery remained behind bars.
Last week, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said a Hampton judge did not have proper jurisdiction to waive Montgomery's conviction under the Virginia Court of Appeals.
Tuesday evening, the Governor personally delivered the news of his pardon to Montgomery, as well as his parents.
"I am ecstatic. The governor called me and gave me sincere wishes about how sorry he is and that he will do everything to rectify this and do the right thing," Montgomery's mother Mishia Woodruff said.
Woodruff spoke to WAVY.com Tuesday and said when her son first got out of prison, she barely recognized him. Montgomery had lost more than 100 pounds during his time served.
"The truth, I didn't recognize him. He was in street clothes... 'Oh that's Johnathon!'" Woodruff said. "In a second he looked familiar."
Speaking about granting the pardon, Governor McDonnell said, "I asked Mr. Montgomery's attorneys to file a petition for a pardon with our office, as that action would allow me to exercise my gubernatorial authority and take immediate action. We received that petition at 10 p.m. last night, and began reviewing it immediately."
According to Virginia law, a conditional pardon is an act by the governor to modify or end a sentence as imposed by court. It is only granted when there is substantial evidence of extraordinary circumstance.
The pardon does not clear his record, rather a writ of actual innocence would also have to be filed to expunge the crime from Montgomery's record.
Montgomery still has to file as a sex offender until the writ is filed.
Coast is due in court Thursday for felony perjury charges.
Norfolk Police are investigating the cause of death for male found unconscious on the beach.
A parade float caught fire at an Oceanfront parade on Dec. 7, 2013.
Speaker Bill Howell will be in Chesapeake Monday to address the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization.