Teacher in Montana rape case seeks new hearing

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Associated Press

Posted on May 16, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Updated Friday, May 16 at 1:36 PM

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A high school teacher who served one month in prison for raping a 14-year-old student is asking the Montana Supreme Court to reconsider a decision that could send him back to prison for at least two more years.

The high court in April ruled that the original sentence given to former Billings teacher Stacey Dean Rambold was illegal.

Justices cited in part comments from Judge G. Todd Baugh, who said during Rambold's sentencing that the victim shared control over the situation. Under state law, children younger than 16 cannot consent to sexual intercourse.

In a petition for rehearing filed Thursday, Rambold's attorneys acknowledged the girl's role had no bearing on his guilt.

But they said it still was appropriate to factor her conduct into his sentence.

"This is not 'victim blaming,' " Rambold attorney Jay Lansing wrote. "There is not statute or case decision which specifically prohibits the sentencing court from consideration of the victim's role and participation in the offense."

Rambold was 47 at the time. The victim committed suicide while the case was still pending.

Baugh has said his comments about the victim were based on videotaped interviews with the girl that were put under court seal.

The judge's actions in the case were widely condemned by women's advocacy groups, legal experts and others. They are the subject of a complaint now pending before the high court from the Montana Judicial Standards Commission.

The Supreme Court ordered Rambold to be resentenced after the state Department of Justice appealed the original sentence of 15 years in prison with all but one month suspended. Justices said the mandatory minimum for sexual assault without consent is two years in prison.

The state will oppose Rambold's petition for a rehearing, Department of Justice Spokesman John Barnes said. It has 15 days to respond.

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