A man with a history of sexual misconduct allegations is employed at the Topeka nonprofit that is housing nearly four dozen migrant children, including some separated from their parents at the border.
Jeff Montague, human resources manager for The Villages Inc., was arrested in Topeka in 2007 for solicitation of sodomy in Gage Park, records show. And in 1989, the Boy Scouts of America severed ties with Montague after being told that he’d been suspended from his teaching position at Seaman High School in Topeka because of allegations of sexual advances toward a male foreign exchange student.
Montague's employment at The Villages was first reported earlier Friday in a story by ThinkProgress.
Sylvia Crawford, executive director of The Villages, said in an email that a former employee raised concerns about Montague's past about a year ago.
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At that time, Crawford said, "both DCF and the Inspector General’s office completed an investigation with no corrective action required on our part."
The Villages for decades has helped troubled and neglected youth, including juveniles sent to group homes and children in foster care. The Department for Children and Families licenses the Topeka nonprofit, which has a contract with the federal government to house youth.
Montague, 63, also is a prominent Topeka stage actor who has appeared in several productions with the Topeka Civic Theatre. He could not be reached for comment.
In the solicitation case, Montague entered a diversion agreement in Topeka Municipal Court and paid $300 in fees and court costs, according to The Topeka Capital-Journal.
Documents from the Boy Scouts, obtained by the Los Angeles Times and made public in 2012, show that Montague held several positions in Scouting, including scoutmaster and lodge adviser. On a 1989 staff application for the National Jamboree, Montague said his special skills included six years as a camp director and directing and designing dozens of theater productions.
A March 8, 1989, letter included in the Boy Scouts file said that the foreign exchange student knew Montague through Scouting. The Jayhawk Area Council sent Montague a letter dated March 9, 1989, saying that it had received several phone calls from volunteers in the Seaman High School district.
“After careful review, we have decided that your registration with the Boy Scouts of America should be suspended,” it said. “We are therefore compelled to request that you sever any relations that you may have with the Boy Scouts of America.”
Another document in the file, dated May 30, 1989, said that "the school will not make a statement other than, 'He is on medical leave and his contract will not be renewed.' "
It also said that "nothing in this case is black and white."
Montague’s past resurfaced in 2014 when he was featured in a campaign ad for Paul Davis, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate who was running against Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. Davis’ campaign quickly pulled the ad after Montague’s past was disclosed by the Kansas GOP. Davis issued an apology to Kansans, saying that "a participant in one of those ads has serious issues in his background."
Kansas lawmakers first learned through an editorial in The Star last month that migrant children forcibly separated from their parents at the border were staying at The Villages. The separation was part of President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" crackdown on illegal immigration that includes the prosecution of all adults who are apprehended crossing the border illegally.
In fiscal 2017, The Villages received $2.6 million in funding from the Office of Refugee Resettlement through its Unaccompanied Alien Children Program. This fiscal year, it has already received $3.2 million.