Women's Issues

Rapist Who Got A Light Sentence Because Teen Victim ‘Acted Older’ Is Finally Getting Re-Sentenced

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Booking photo of Stacey RamboldIf you ever wondered if rape culture exists, you need look no further than the case of the 14-year-old rape victim whose teacher-attacker was sentenced to a mere one month because the judge who presided over the case claimed the victim “acted older” than her age. In other news, there is a God, and she’s intervened. This week the Montana Supreme Court overturned the one month prison sentence and assigned the case to a new judge.

District Judge G. Todd Baugh claimed the 14-year-old rape victim was ”older than her chronological age” and was “probably as much in control of the situation” as the 47-year-old Billings high school teacher who raped her. Clearly the teacher, Stacey Rambold, didn’t deserve a legitimate sentence. Yes, you read that right. A judge claimed a 14-year-old acted older than her age so her teacher-rapist who had an ongoing sexual relationship with a child didn’t deserve an actual sentence. The story gets much worse; the young girl, Cherice Moralez, went on to commit suicide.

From Reuters:

On Wednesday, the high court ordered the case assigned to a different judge for re-sentencing as it ruled the sentence – technically 15 years in prison with all but 31 days suspended and credit for one day served – was too lenient.

The court noted that state law requires at least a four-year sentence for a defendant guilty of raping a victim under age 16, and no more than two years of that can be suspended.

“The district court lacked authority to suspend all but 31 days of Rambold’s sentence, and its judgment is therefore reversed,” Justice Michael Wheat said in the opinion, joined by five other justices.

In 2008, Rambold was charged with three counts of of sexual intercourse without consent. The teen killed herself in 2010, “crippling a prosecution that hinged on her testimony.” Rambold took a plea deal in which prosecutors agreed to postpone and dismiss the case if he completed sex offender treatment. He didn’t – so prosecutors sought a 20 year prison term with half of it suspended. That’s when the judge said he wasn’t “convinced that the reasons for Rambold’s move were serious enough to warrant the 10-year prison term.” He sentenced Rambold to 31 days, with one day already served.

Wow. This was a gross failure of justice and a young girl is dead. Great that it was overturned – but too little, too late. The judge will be retiring this year. Good riddance.

(Photo: Montana Dept. of Corrections)