A judge has re-sentenced a former Montana teacher convicted of raping a student in 2007.
Stacey Dean Rambold, 54, was found guilty of raping 14-year-old Cherice Moralez while she was a student in his class at Billings Senior High.
For three months in 2007, Rambold and Moralez had sexual relations.
Moralez killed herself at the age of 16 in February 2010 while charges were pending against Rambold.
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Rambold was initially sentenced to a 15 year jail term, with all but 31 days suspended for one count of sexual intercourse without consent. The judge preceding over the case made a strong statement regarding Moralez that caused outrage.
The judge said the teen was “older than her chronological age" and said she was "as much in control of the situation" as Rambold, reports USA Today.
The re-sentencing took place because of the outcry over the short sentence and judge’s comments.
Judge Randal Spaulding presided over the re-sentencing, making the decision to change Rambold’s sentence to 15 years in prison, with a 5-year suspension for time served in jail and on probation.
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The judge based his decision on “the victim’s age, Rambold’s position as a teacher and Rambold's response to being warned by school officials all factored into his sentencing,” reports The Billings Gazette. Internet usage by Rambold was also an “aggravating factor.”
The judge did remark that Rambold did not force himself on his victim and he had completed sex offender treatment.
Rambold made a statement before the sentencing was handed down saying he was “sorry for what I’ve done.”
"Not a day goes by that I don't think of Cherice's family and pray that they can find peace. The same goes for my family. I only hope that they can find the end of this as well — and heal," Rambold said, reportedly sobbing.
"I've worked hard trying to do everything I can to become a better person. I've gone through counseling. I go to church, and working, but I'm not perfect,” Rambold said.
A state probation officer testified that Rambold was “a boundary pusher.” He had un-installed mandatory computer and cell phone monitoring software and violated internet use twice by looking for massage parlors.
The probation officer suggested Rambold should resume sex-offender treatment. He is currently registered as a Level 1 sex offender.
Moralez's mother made a tearful statement at the hearing.
"Stacey Rambold's actions were definitely a factor in her decision to take her life," Hanlon said. "If you have a daughter, go home and hug her, because I can't hug my daughter no more.”
Hanlon asked the judge to sentence Rambold to prison.