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Teacher sentenced in rape case spends just 30 days in jail

Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- Attorneys for a former Montana teacher who raped a 14-year-old student argued Friday that his 30 days in prison were enough punishment, even as a judicial oversight panel sought the censure of the judge in the case over what it called an unlawful sentence.

Prosecutors want to send freed rapist Stacey Dean Rambold of Billings back to prison. They said in an appeal of his sentence that he should have served a minimum of four years after pleading guilty last year to sexual assault without consent.

In a legal brief that lays out their arguments against the state's appeal, lawyers for Rambold cited a "lynch mob" mentality following the huge public outcry over the case.

They suggested the girl bore some responsibility for the rape, and referenced videotaped interviews with her before she committed suicide while the case was pending. Those interviews remain under seal by the court.

"The citizens of Montana have determined that persons as young as 12 years of age will be held accountable and responsible for their actions in regard to certain types of sexual offenses," Rambold attorney Jay Lansing wrote. "There is no rational basis to conclude that if the person is 14 years of age, the person can only have responsibility if they are the offender."

Lansing also said the state missed its chance to appeal by not raising the issue during an August sentencing hearing.

The case gained notoriety after Judge G. Todd Baugh commented during Rambold's sentencing that the victim "appeared older than her chronological age" and "was probably as much in control of the situation as the defendant." The judge also has cited the video interviews.

Attorney Shane Colton, who represented the victim's estate in a wrongful death lawsuit, said the girl was too young to be complicit in the crime against her.

"It's my understanding that the state's law is at age 14 you cannot give consent, therefore you can't be complicit in any fashion," Colton said.

John Barnes, a spokesman for Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, said the state has 14 days to reply to Rambold's arguments and would have no immediate comment.

The latest turn in the case was sharply criticized as "more victim blaming" by Marian Bradley, president of the Montana chapter of the National Organization for Women.

"They are comparing the victim to a sex offender, and that's not OK. She was a victim, not a perpetrator," Bradley said.

Victim Cherice Moralez was a freshman when she was raped; Rambold, then 47, was her business teacher. She committed suicide in 2010 before the case went to trial, an act her mother said was driven largely by the rape.

The girl's death took away the prosecution's main witness, and Rambold initially avoided prosecution under a deferred prosecution agreement that included sex-offender treatment. He violated the agreement by having unauthorized visits with relatives' children and having a sexual relationship with an adult woman, according to court documents.

That re-opened the case and led to the sentence from Baugh of 15 years in prison with all but one month suspended. Rambold was released in September.

Montana's Judicial Standards Commission said this week that Baugh should be censured by the Montana Supreme Court for imposing an unlawful sentence and blaming the child victim. The panel investigated the case after receiving hundreds of complaints about the judge.

It's uncertain whether Baugh will have a public hearing. On Feb. 13, he waived his right to formal proceedings before the commission and submitted himself to justices for punishment.

He has apologized for his comments about Moralez and said he plans to retire when his current term expires at the end of the year.

Censure is defined by the commission as a public declaration by the high court that a judge is guilty of misconduct. It can be ordered in conjunction with other sanctions but does not require suspension or removal from office.

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tom.pandolfi March 01 2014 at 7:46 AM

If this was my daughter, believe me when I say this judge would never have another peaceful day in his life........if he was still alive. They would have to put him in the Witness Protection Program!

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ohiojoe184 March 01 2014 at 8:04 AM

Where are these irresponsible judges coming from? You have the one in California who let a 16 year old repeat offender off after killing people while driving drunk, this judge lets a rapist walk the streets after only 30 days, even though the victim killed herself over it. What makes this case even more horrendous is the rapist was a teacher who parents put their children's welfare in his care. I believe more thorough investigation of the MORAL standards of prospective judges need to be completed before they are permitted to sit on the bench.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
1 reply
Mike ohiojoe184 March 01 2014 at 8:17 AM

Hey, you've got the liberals saying there are too many people in jail.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
zinnthewhitexmas March 01 2014 at 8:05 AM


Flag Reply +5 rate up
PHILL AND TRISHA March 01 2014 at 8:06 AM

the judge should do 15 years for "excessive stupity"..in a Bolivian jail!

Flag Reply +7 rate up
reeree8487 March 01 2014 at 12:49 PM

It is a sick world we are living in! I don't care how these young girls choose to dress, that man is a pedophile. That judge is out of his mind! Teens today do not realize the message they are sending out today the way they dress or should I say don't dress, but, a grown MAN should not get away with this act of violence!

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mclare100 March 01 2014 at 12:49 PM

So, once again, the VICTIM is to blame ! When a female says NO, it means No ....rape is wrong no matter how you look at it . That Judge needs to be removed. Students do not deserve to be raped by their teachers or any other person who is supposed to be trusted in an authoritative position .

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Jay March 01 2014 at 12:48 PM

this is BAD when a rapist who admitted his crime also, onnlmy has 1 month in jail and the girl is now Dead because of this rape no doubt!!!

THis Judge should be in jail too for accepting payoffs!!! Thats the only reason a judge cold do something this horrible!!!!

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1 reply
Vocem Meam Jay March 01 2014 at 12:51 PM

Another reason would be IF the judge was kind to his own. What do we know about this Judge's past? Maybe he doesn't think it's anything wrong with it. You know, rape a girl and as punishment for the crime, send her dad a cow...

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scadaj March 01 2014 at 8:12 AM

The, so called judge, should be raped by a big bubba then fired from his job with no pay, no benefits. Oh, wait he should receive benefits. The benefits of prison.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
bilhee March 01 2014 at 8:13 AM

Wow!! Real justice..not only did he rape her, he caused her to commit suicide too…Turn him loose to a bunch of family friends for ten minutes, and turn the judge loose with him

Flag Reply +2 rate up
acash626 March 01 2014 at 12:47 PM

Judicial Censure...Really.. so they publicly say something unflattering about him. Like this judge is going to care one iota about what 's said about him.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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