The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

September 26, 2013

Ex-Mont. teacher freed after 30-day term for rape

(Continued)

BILLINGS, Mont. —

Rambold's attorney, Jay Lansing, declined to comment on the defendant's release. Several friends and family members of Rambold also declined to comment.

In court documents and during the sentencing hearing, Lansing described his client as a one-time offender with no prior record who took responsibility for his actions when he admitted to a single count of rape under a 2010 deferred prosecution agreement that was made after Moralez killed herself.

Hanlon has said Rambold's actions were a "major factor" in the girl's suicide.

The agreement with prosecutors allowed Rambold to remain free for more than three years, until he was kicked out of 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.

When Rambold came back before the court in August, Baugh appeared to show sympathy for the defendant and agreed with Lansing's recommendation that Rambold receive a 15-year sentence with all but one month suspended. Prosecutors had sought a 20-year term with 10 years suspended.

Baugh also made comments pinning some of the responsibility in the case on Moralez, whom the judge described as "older than her chronological age."

The comments sparked outrage among many women's groups, victim's rights advocates and others, saying the judge was blaming the victim, who had not reached Montana's age of consent, which is 16.

Prosecutors said Baugh's lenient sentence was not allowed under a state law that requires Rambold to serve a mandatory minimum of two years in prison.

A formal complaint to have Baugh removed from the bench for alleged bias is pending before the state Judicial Standards Commission.

Hanlon said her focus remains on Rambold and the appeal of his sentence, which prosecutors said could take six to 18 months to work its way through the Montana Supreme Court.

For years, Hanlon said she carried around a photograph of her daughter's rapist, so she would recognize him if they ever crossed paths. With his return to Billings, Hanlon said she likely would walk away if she encountered him now.

"I considered going down to the jail to forgive him, but I don't know," she said. "I'm still waiting for a sign from God."

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