The Montana ex-teacher at the heart of a controversial 30-day sentence for raping a teenager who later committed suicide is free after serving his one-month sentence.
Stacey Rambold, 54, was released from prison about 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Montana State Prison spokesman Linda Moody told the Billings Gazette
. Rambold's case became national news because of the sentence issued by Yellowstone County District Court Judge G. Todd Baugh on Aug. 26.
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In Rambold's sentencing hearing, Baugh said the victim, Cherice Moralez, who was 14 at the time of the rape in 2007, was "older than her chronological age" and was "as much in control of the situation" as her former teacher, justifying the light sentence, wrote the Billings Gazette.
Moralez committed suicide in 2010, days before her 17th birthday as the case was making its way through the court system.
Baugh's comments caused a national uproar, with Montana's National Organization of Women and the activist group Ultraviolet filing formal complaints with the Judicial Standards Commission, wrote KULR-TV
The case may not be completely over for Rambold because the Montana attorney general's office filed a notice of intent to appeal the case to the Montana Supreme Court, wrote the Billings Gazette. Prosecutors told the newspaper that Baugh's sentence violated state law because it requires a mandatory minimum sentence of at least two years in similar cases.
Moralez's mother, Auliea Hanlon, told the Billings Gazette Wednesday that Rambold should have been sentenced to 20 years in prison with 10 years suspended. She told the newspaper she's banking on the high court to put Rambold back in prison.
The Billings Gazette said the appeal process could take up to 18 months.
The Associated Press reported that Rambold was free
while the rape charge against him went through the court system until he was booted from a sex offender treatment program for unauthorized visits with relatives' children and for not disclosing that he was in a sexual relationship with a Washington woman.
Despite the violations, Baugh seemed to show sympathy for Rambold when he came back to court, wrote the AP. Rambold's attorney told Baugh that Rambold was a one-time offender who owned up to the rape once confronted, reported the AP. Prosecutors had sought a 20-year term with 10 years suspended.
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