18 October 2018

Liberia - Embattled American Charity Faces Lawsuit Over Property Ownership Amid Allegation of Rape Cover Up

Photo: Nyasa Times
Ten girls between the ages of 10 and 16 were raped.

Monrovia — The More Than Me (MTM) charity organization catering to the welfare of girls but accused and under investigation for covering up sexually abuse of teenagers in its care will now face a new lawsuit.

The suit filed against the charity organization is not about the rape scandal, which was recently exposed by a ProPublica investigative report, but an attempt to regain possession of a property the foundation is currently occupying in Monrovia.

Matu Kumba Montgomery, the Plaintiff, is claiming to be the legitimate owner of the building housing the More Than Me Academy on Ashmun Street.

She has again filed an amended court action to evict occupants (MTM) from the building.

Montgomery's original petition before the amended version against the management of the MTM was filed late February 3, 2016.

In that petition, Ms. Montgomery claimed to be the granddaughter of the late Richard Montgomery, who she claims became the owner of the property in 1922.

She said her granddad acquired the property from the late John V. Cooper and during the 1950s and early 1960s, the Department of Justice now the Ministry of Justice, occupied the land based on the consent of her grandfather because of the suitability of the architectural design of the premises.

She claimed that sometimes between 1950 and 1960, Richard Montgomery, being a faculty member of the University of Liberia, allowed the institution to use the building as an administrative building due to the expansion of the University at that time in 1950s.

The Department of Justice occupied the building after the University relocated.

Ms. Montgomery further narrated that following the death of her late mother, Elizabeth Montgomery in 2007, she immediately returned to Liberia from the United States to repossess the property.

She was informed that former Montserrado County Superintendent Grace Kpan and APM Terminals had renovated the building for use by MTM management.

"The petitioner commenced this cause of action against co-respondent More Than Me Foundation, which has refused, failed and neglected to vacate the petitioner's property after several notices served to vacate, by commencement of this summary proceeding the petitioner is seeking court's order to oust, eject and evict More Than Me Foundation, which continues to ignore, injure and violate the petitioner's property," states the writ.

Complainant Montgomery furthered that after her lawyer had rested with the proceeding, the Government of Liberia moved the court to intervene maintaining that it had interest.

Montgomery's latest amended complaint captioned, "Petitioner's Amended Trial Memorandum for Summary Proceedings to Recover Possession of Real Property," was sent to Judge Scheaplor Dunbar of the Civil Law Court "B" at the Temple of Justice.

The petition is also directed against the Management of the More Than Me Foundation by and thru its CEO Kaytie Meyler, Country Director Laura Smith, Mrs. Williams to be identified and all other occupants under their authority as defendants.

According to Montgomery's revised petition filed recently, she alleged that the general principle that the government cannot be required to plea title is a myth and particularly does not apply in this instant case.

The Government of Liberia, thru the Ministry of Justice, is expected to respond to this latest petition upon receipt.

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