Society

Stacey Rambold Walks Free: Teacher Who Raped Student Cherice Moralez, 14, Ends 30-Day Sentence That Sparked National Outrage

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The teacher who was sentenced to just 30 days in jail for repeatedly raping a 14-year-old student has done his time. Stacey Rambold, 54, walked out of Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge this morning, a free man.

“I figured he'd be fired, go to jail, and she would be vindicated, and that would be the end of it," said the victim’s mother, Auliea Hanlon. "Instead, here it is six years later, still going on, and he's getting out. He's still skating."

Rambold (pictured left), then a business teacher at Billings Senior High School, raped Cherice Moralez in 2008. The girl, said by her mother to love dancing outdoors during rainstorms, scary movies and the music of Pink Floyd, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 2010 as Rambold was awaiting trial.

According to her mother, she was despondent over being bullied and treated as a social outcast after news of her rapes by the teacher, 35 years her elder, went public.

The case ignited national outrage when District Court Judge G. Todd Baugh handed down the wrist-slapping sentence to Rambold and appeared to blame Moralez (pictured right) for the sexual assaults against her.

In his comments at the sentencing, Baugh said that the then-14-year-old was “as much in control” as the teacher and that she was “older than her chronological age.”

Baugh later apologized for his remarks, but in his awkward attempt to make amends he made matters worse by appearing to minimize the severity of Rambold’s crime.

“I think that people have in mind that this was some violent, forcible, horrible rape,” Baugh said. “It was horrible enough as it is, just given her age, but it wasn't this forcible beat-up rape."

He later apologized again, calling himself, “really stupid.” But that wasn’t the end of the bumbling judge’s bizarre, dark comedy. A few days later, he announced that he had goofed and misread Montana’s minimum-sentencing law. He should have sentenced Rambold to two years, not 31 days, with credit for one day already served.

Baugh has served on the bench since 1984. The day before Rambold’s release, a group of Montana residents led by the state branch of the National Organization for Women, submitted a petition with 140,000 signatures and a formal complaint against Baugh to the Montana Supreme Court's Judicial Standard Commission.

The group asked that Baugh be stripped of his judgeship.

SOURCES: CNN (2), CBS News, Associated Press, KTVQ News, USA Today