|Montana Rapist Freed After 30 Days|
|By CHRISTINA NG (@ChristinaNg27) and ANTHONY CASTELLANO (@AntCastellano)||Sep 26, 2013, 7:41 AM|
An admitted rapist and former high school teacher in Montana was released today after serving a 30-day prison sentence for raping a 14-year-old girl who later committed suicide.
Stacey Rambold, 54, left the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge after completing the term handed down by District Judge G. Todd Baugh of Billings last month for the 2007 rape of Cherice Moralez, according to the Associated Press.
Rambold's sentence triggered protest and outrage across the nation after Baugh said in a Billings, Mont., court that the victim was "older than her chronological age." Baugh later voiced regret for his choice of words, but initially stood by the 30-day jail sentence. Then, Baugh had a change of heart and scheduled a hearing to determine whether the sentence should be increased by two years.
Earlier this month, Montana's Supreme Court blocked Baugh from resentencing Rambold and voiding the 31-day prison sentence.
"We conclude that the stated intent of the District Court to alter the initially imposed oral sentence in today's scheduled hearing is unlawful," the State Supreme Court's ruling said Sept. 6. "We take no position on the legality of the imposed sentence, and will address the parties' arguments in that regard on appeal."
Rambold was charged in October 2008 with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent after he was accused of having a sexual relationship with Moralez, who was 14 at the time, according to court documents.
She committed suicide in February 2010 while the case was pending, which complicated the case.
Rambold entered a three-year deferred prosecution agreement in July 2010. The deal said that the charges would be dismissed if he completed a sex offender treatment program, did not have contact with children and met other conditions.
He agreed to the deal and admitted to one rape charge.
The case re-surfaced in December 2012 when prosecutors discovered that Rambold had been terminated from the sex offender program and had unsupervised visits with minors, who were family members.
Rambold's defense attorney said that Rambold has continued his treatment with a different program and was found to be low risk to re-offend after an evaluation, the AP reported.