A teacher convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl who later committed suicide will serve just 30 days
of a suspended 15-year sentence, a Montana judge decided on Monday.
Stacey Rambold, 54, was charged in 2008 with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent after prosecutors claimed he targeted a student, Cherice Morales, and used his position of trust as a teacher to take advantage of her. The teacher pleaded guilty to one count but the case was complicated by the girl's suicide just weeks before her 17th birthday.
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Rambold eventually struck a deferred prosecution deal and was ordered to complete a sex offender treatment program in order to have the rape charges dismissed, according to the Billings Gazette
. But the case was reignited after he reportedly missed a few treatment sessions and was terminated from the program, according to the Billings Gazette.
Judge G. Todd Baugh said on Monday that Rambold's dismissal from the sex offender program did not warrant the lengthy imprisonment that the prosecution argued for. He claimed to have listened to recordings of Morales from before her death and ruled that the victim was "older than her chronological age" and "as much in control of the situation" as Rambold.
Baugh suspended all but 31 days of the 15-year sentence and gave Rambold credit of one day already served.
Morales' mother, who has maintained throughout the case that the rape led to her daughter's suicide, repeatedly screamed "You people suck!" at the judge before storming out of the courtroom, the Gazette reported.
The lenient sentence was reminiscent of another teacher rape case that sparked outrage earlier this year. A Los Angeles educator charged with molesting 20 young girls in 2011 was still allowed to receive his full pension
after quitting his job at an elementary school because he stepped down and was not technically fired by the school board.
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