Teacher in Montana rape case leaves prison
Stacey Jean Rambold, a 54-year-old former teacher, walked out of Montana State Prison today after serving a 30-day sentence for the rape of his student, Cherice Morales. Morales was 14 years old during the rape and committed suicide before she turned 17. Rambold will be under probation until 2028 and must register as a sex offender with the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, reports the Billings Gazette. Judge G. Todd Baugh, who gave the lenient sentence, received a firestorm of criticism after comments that the victim “seemed older than her chronological age” and was “as much in control of the situation” as the teacher. He later apologized and even tried to overturn the sentence once he realized that Montana law required a mandatory minimum sentence of two years for Rambold.
Activist Kate Olp, who has spearheaded a campaign to remove Baugh from office, said she and her colleagues are still working hard to make things right. “We’re going through the proper legal channels to see what we can make happen,” said Olp. “It’s very likely his previous sentence will be overturned.”
Olp said she had not expected the sentence to be overturned before today in spite of Baugh’s efforts. “I wouldn’t want it to be because that’s not following the proper legal protocol,” she said. “We would much rather see what needed to happen happen and see it officially appealed to the Supreme Court so a higher ruling body could make the correct decision. We’ve been pleased with the prosecutor and the Yellowstone County District Attorney’s Office: They’re working hard to see justice is served and we trust that they, along with the Supreme Court, will see that the correct thing gets done.”
Auliea Hanlon told the Gazette that she also hopes the Montana Supreme Court will order a longer sentence and that Rambold will get 20 years in prison with 10 years suspended. She told the Gazette of Rambold, “It seems like yesterday he went in [to prison].”