The Montana Supreme Court has overturned a one-month prison
sentence given to a former teacher for the rape of a
14-year-old student, a penalty that has been criticized as
The high court's written ruling ordered the case to be
assigned to a different judge for re-sentencing. The victim
committed suicide before the case could be brought to trial.
Montana district Judge G. Todd Baugh drew fierce public
criticism last year when he sentenced the teacher, Stacey
Rambold, to just a month in prison for the 2007 sexual
assault of his student, Cherice Moralez.
Baugh fueled the public outrage by saying during Rambold's
sentencing hearing that the teenager seemed older than her
years and was "probably as much in control of the situation"
as the teacher.
Technically, the judge sentenced the former Billings, Montana
high school teacher to 15 years in prison with all but 31
days suspended and gave him credit for one day served.
The high court found that was too lenient, given that state
law requires a prison sentence of at least four years when a
defendant is found guilty of raping a victim less than 16
years old, and no more than two years of that can be
"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 court's opinion.