BILLINGS, Mont. – A former high school teacher was sentenced to a mere 30 days in jail as punishment for raping a 14-year-old student who later committed suicide because of the relationship.
Stacey Dean Rambold was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but Yellowstone County Judge G. Todd Baugh suspended all but 31 days and credited Rambold for one day already served. Rambold, 54, was convicted of sexual intercourse without consent stemming from a sexual relationship with a student that began in 2008, the Billings Gazette reports.
The victim’s mother, Auliea Hanlon, testified Rambold played a major role in her daughter’s suicide shortly before her 17th birthday. She was understandably angry with Rambold’s sentence.
Hanlon repeatedly shouted “You people suck!” at the sentencing hearing yesterday, the newspaper reports.
Rambold was charged with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent in October 2008 after authorities learned of a sexual relationship between him and student Cherice Morales, then 14.
“The girl’s death caused problems for the prosecution, and in July 2010 Rambold entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office,” the Gazette reports.
“The agreement called for prosecutors to put the case on hold for three years. The charges would be dismissed, the agreement stated, if Rambold completed a sex offender treatment program and complied with other conditions.”
But Rambold messed up that agreement when he was kicked out of the treatment program for visiting minors (relatives) without permission and not informing counselors about a sexual relationship he developed with a woman, the newspaper reports.
Rambold’s sentencing this week was the final punishment to resolve his deferred sentence and subsequent violations. Rambold’s attorney argued he has suffered already, with the loss of his wife, job, and through the “scarlet letter of the Internet.”
Prosecutors wanted Rambold to serve 20 years in prison with 10 in abeyance. Hanlon pleaded with the court to put Rambold in prison.
Judge Baugh wasn’t convinced prison was the appropriate punishment.
He said at the sentencing that he didn’t believe the crime justified the long prison sentence because the victim was “older than her chronological age” and was “in as much control of the situation” as the rapist, the Gazette reports.
The former high school teacher had been warned in 2004, before he was busted with Morales, about inappropriately touching female students, something that helped Hanlon win a wrongful death settlement of $91,000 against School District 2 – Rambold’s former employer.
By Victor Skinner at EAGnews.org
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