Montana rapist completes 31-day jail sentence, sent home

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A Montana man whose rape conviction generated national attention because it only brought a 31-day jail sentence — and because the judge seemed to cast blame on the 14-year-old victim — has been released.

Stacey Rambold, a former teacher who had sex with a 14-year-old student who later committed suicide, left the Montana State Prison Thursday afternoon, The Associated Press reported. He had been sentenced to 31 days, but also given time served for his one day behind bars.

The girl’s mother had fought his short sentence, and so had two chapters of the National Organization of Women, in Montana and in Pennsylvania. A petition with about 140,000 signatures was sent to the state’s judicial review board, asking for a review of the case and a stronger sentence for Rambold. Prosecutors, meanwhile, have appealed the court’s sentence, saying it’s illegal because state law demands that the minimum jail term for such a crime is two years.

“[Judge G. Todd Baugh] made a mistake, and I’m disappointed. Thirty-one days — that’s outrageous, but the Montana Supreme Court stepped in. Hopefully, they’ll make it right,” said Auliea Hanlon, the mother of victim Cherice Moralez, on CNN.

The judge, during sentencing, said the girl “seemed older than her chronological age” and that she was “as much in control of the situation” as Rambold. He later apologized for his comments.

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