Stacey Dean Rambold, 55, is heading back to jail after his resentencing as a sex offender. After a light sentence of just 31 days in jail for the statutory rape of Cherice Moralez, 14, Rambold was given a sentence of 15 years in prison. Moralez committed suicide in 2010 before the case went to trial.
There was a national outcry after Judge G. Todd Baugh handed Rambold a 15-year sentence with all but 31 days suspended. The Montana Supreme Court later reversed that sentencing as based on an inapplicable statute and Baugh resentenced Rambold to 15 years in prison, with five years of that suspended.
Without Moralez, prosecutors had struck a deal with Rambold that initially allowed him to avoid prison altogether. However, he was accused of violating that agreement by having unauthorized visits with relatives’ children and entering into a relationship with an adult woman without telling his counselor. That led to his pleading guilty last year to the count of sexual intercourse without consent.
The defense sought to introduce evidence that Moralez was a willing participant in the sexual relations. Baugh outraged many with his comments at trial that Moralez “appeared older than her chronological age.”
It was a particularly outrageous observation since Rambold had sexual relations with Morales in fall 2007 when she was just 14 and a student in one of his classes at Billings Senior High. He certainly knew her age. He was her teacher.
Baugh was later given a 30-day suspension from the bench and a public censure for his statements in the case and he has announced his retirement.