BILLINGS – A Montana judge lacks the authority to impose a new sentence on a man sent to prison for a month for raping a 14-year-old girl who later committed suicide, the state’s high court has ruled.
Friday’s decision came as the judge sought to change the former teacher’s sentence after his original ruling, in which he said the student was “older than her chronological age,” drew widespread criticism.
An appeal of the case already was pending from prosecutors who contend that former Billings teacher Stacey Rambold, 54, should serve two years, at a minimum. But Judge G. Todd Baugh sought to undo the 30-day sentence on his own after his remarks triggered calls for his resignation.
Rambold’s victim, Cherice Moralez, committed suicide in 2010 while the case was pending. Baugh commented at Rambold’s Aug. 26 sentencing that she was “as much in control of the situation as was the defendant.”