The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Nation & World

September 6, 2013

Court stops Montana judge from undoing rape sentence

(Continued)

BILLINGS, Mont. —

The sentence handed down Aug. 26 had been suggested by Rambold's attorney, Jay Lansing.

Lansing said in a court brief filed this week that a new sentence from Baugh would have created "confusion and uncertainty for all parties." He said the original sentence — 15 years with all but 31 days suspended and a one-day credit for time served — was allowed under state law.

Prosecutors didn't challenge the 30-day sentence as illegal until the days after the Aug. 26 hearing, when they discovered the mandatory minimum term for sexual intercourse without consent was two years.

Baugh on Friday repeated his assertion that giving Rambold the minimum mandatory sentence was appropriate due to the circumstances of the case. He described the former teacher with no prior record as a low risk to re-offend after spending more than two years in a sex-offender treatment program.

The defendant entered that program in 2010, after Moralez's suicide left prosecutors without their main witness in the case shortly before it was scheduled to go to trial.

That led to a deferred prosecution deal that allowed Rambold to avoid trial until he violated the terms of the agreement last year, for not reporting that he was in a sexual relationship with a woman and for unauthorized visits with family members' children.

Court documents show there were complaints about Rambold's conduct with female students as early as 2004. Three years before his relationship with Moralez, prosecutors say, "he was warned to stay away from young girls in his class."

No charges were filed, and Lansing has said his client would challenge those accusations.

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