Judge orders new hearing on controversial rape sentencing

2013-09-03T15:37:00Z 2013-09-03T15:44:19Z Judge orders new hearing on controversial rape sentencingBy Greg Tuttle of The Billings Gazette Montana Standard
September 03, 2013 3:37 pm  • 

BILLINGS -  Saying the sentence he imposed on a former Billings teacher for the rape of a student may be illegal, Yellowstone County District Court Judge G. Todd Baugh has ordered a new hearing.

In an order filed Tuesday, Baugh set a hearing for Friday at 1:30 p.m. to determine whether the sentence he imposed last week on Stacey Dean Rambold should be revised.

Baugh said in the order that the mandatory minimum sentence Rambold should have received appears to be two years, not the 30-day sentence that Baugh ordered on Aug. 26.

Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito called Baugh’s order an "unusual occurrence."

Twito has been consulting with the Montana Attorney General’s Office to determine whether to appeal the case to the state Supreme Court.

"The state will review the issue and we will be prepared to be in court on Friday," Twito said in response to the judge’s new order.

Rambold, a former Senior High teacher who admitted to raping a 14-year-old female student who later committed suicide, received a sentence of 15 years in prison, with all but 31 days suspended. He was given credit for one day previously served.

The sentence, and statements made by Baugh at the hearing last week, drew international attention and calls for Baugh’s resignation.

Baugh said at the hearing that the victim, Cherice Moralez, was "as much in control of the situation" as Rambold. He also described the girl as "older than her chronological age."

The judge apologized for the remarks two days later. On Thursday, an estimated 400 people gathered in downtown Billings to protest the sentence and Baugh’s statements.

Rambold, 54, was transported to Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge last Thursday. He is expected to be returned to Billings for the hearing on Friday.

Rambold’s attorney, Jay Lansing, was out of his office Tuesday and could not immediately be reached for comment.

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