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Montana Rape Case: Ex-Teacher Stacey Rambold Freed After 30 Days for Raping Teen Who Committed Suicide

( [email protected] ) Sep 26, 2013 07:21 PM EDT
Stacey Rambold, 54, was picked up by a family member from the Montana State Prison in Deer Dodge after serving his short sentence handed down District Judge G. Todd Baugh of Billings for the 2007 rape of Cherice Moralez. The victim's mother, Auliea Hanlon, in tears told AP that Rambold's actions were a "major factor" in her daughter's suicide in 2010, which happened before he went to trial.
This undated photo courtesy of Auliea Hanlon shows Cherice Moralez, who was raped in 2007 when she was 14 by teacher Stacey Rambold in Billings, Mont. Rambold is due to be released from prison on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013 after serving just 30 days. The short sentence triggered a backlash against the judge who handled the case, including calls for him to be removed from the bench. Photo: Auliea Hanlon

A former high school teacher has been released from a Montana prison after completing a 30-day sentence handed down by a judge for the rape of a 14-year-old girl in 2007.

Stacey Rambold, 54, was picked up by a family member from the Montana State Prison in Deer Dodge after serving his short sentence handed down District Judge G. Todd Baugh of Billings for the 2007 rape of Cherice Moralez.

The victim's mother, Auliea Hanlon, in tears told AP that Rambold's actions were a "major factor" in her daughter's suicide in 2010, which happened before he went to trial.

Although Hanlon, as a Christian, has considered going down to prison to forgive him, she hesitates now as she believes her daughter has not been vindicated, and Rambolt is "still skating justice."

She recalled the emotions that have at times overwhelmed her since a church counselor in whom Moralez confided first told Hanlon about the rape.

State prosecutors are appealing the sentence as the minimum jail time is two years under state law. But Rambolt, who has served his time, will stay out of prison pending the appeal. The former team has returned on Thursday morning to Billings.

He's been registered as a level 1 sex offender and will remain on probation through 2028 unless the original sentence is overruled, the AP reported.

"I figured he'd be fired, go to jail, and she would be vindicated, and that would be the end of it," said Moralez's mother. "Instead, here it is six years later, still going on, and he's getting out."

Jay Lansing, Rambold's attorney, described his client as a one-time offender who took responsibility for his actions when he admitted to a single count of rape under a 2010 deferred prosecution agreement that allowed Rambold to remain free for more than three years.

When Rambold appeared before the court in August, Baugh agreed to Lansing's recommendation that Rambold receive a 15-year sentence with all but one month suspended, meaning a 30-day prison term. The prosecutor had sought a 20-year sentence with 10-year suspended.

Moreover, Baugh also made comments that cast the blame on Moralez, whom the judge described as "older than her chronological age," the AP reported.

Baugh is under fire for his lenient sentencing and the alleged bias by women's groups, victim's rights advocates and others. A formal complaint to have him disrobed or removed from the bench is pending before the state Judicial Standards Commission.

Hanlon told AP that her focus remains on Rambold and the appeal for his sentence, which prosecutors said could take six to 18 months to work its way through the Montana Supreme Court.