Stacey Dean Rambold was a 49-year-old teacher when he repeatedly raped a 14-year-old student at a Montana high school in 2008. With the case against him still pending, his victim, Cherice Morales, committed suicide before her 17th birthday, leading Rambold to plead guilty to one felony charge. He agreed to complete a sex offender treatment program, thus avoiding jail time, but found himself back in court this week after he was booted from treatment for visiting with minor family members unsupervised and not informing counselors about his sexual relationships. Prosecutors requested twenty years for violations to the agreement; a judge decided on 30 days.
Judge G. Todd Baugh technically sentenced Rambold to fifteen years in prison, the Billings Gazette reports, but suspended “all but 31 days” and then gave a day’s credit for time served. “It’s not probably the kind of rape most people think about,” Baugh said. “It was not a violent, forcible, beat-the-victim rape, like you see in the movies. But it was nonetheless a rape. It was a troubled young girl, and he was a teacher. And this should not have occurred.”
Baugh went on: “She seemed older than her chronological age,” he said. “Basically what we had was a troubled young girl.” (Baugh later told CNN “that was not the best choice of words.”) In court, he said, “I simply did not have the evidence to conclude that her taking her life was because of her sexual offense by Mr. Rambold.” To CNN, he added that Rambold is “treatable” and a “low risk to re-offend.”
“I think this sentence is a joke, a travesty,” said the victim’s mother, Auliea Hanlon. “People will lose faith in our justice system. I have.” As the judge read the sentence, she screamed, “You people suck!”