Stacey Dean Rambold, a 55-year-old former business teacher at Billings Senior High School, gained national attention when a judge suggested his 14-year-old victim was "older than her chronological age." On Friday, Rambold is returning to court to be re-sentenced.
Rambold spent a month in prison after all but 31 days of a 15-year sentence were suspended. Now, Rambold is being re-sentenced after Judge G. Todd Baugh, the case's original judge, was suspended without pay and censured for victim-blaming comments. The Montana Supreme Court declared Baugh's ruling illegal, because "according to state sentencing laws, the decision means Rambold must serve a minimum of two years in prison," Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito told The Associated Press. The case was re-assigned to state District Judge Randal Spaulding.
Rambold, who was freed last fall, hopes he will be sentenced to the minimum two-year required sentence, with another two years suspended for his 2007 rape of a first-year student at the school. He wrote a letter to the court asking for forgiveness, saying that "no one can really appreciate and understand what it feels like to have so many people actually hate you and be disgusted by you." Meanwhile, Twito has asked the court to give Rambold a 10-year sentence with another 10 years suspended. Twito argued that a longer sentence was warranted because Rambold had a position of authority over his victim, Cherice Moralez.
Moralez committed suicide in 2010, when the case was still pending. Prosecutors had allowed Rambold to avoid prison, since Moralez could no longer serve as a witness. But the case was revived when Rambold violated his agreement by "having unauthorized visits with relatives' children and entering into a relationship with an adult woman without telling his counselor," according to AP. He pleaded guilty last year to one count of "sexual intercourse without consent."