Sometimes bad things happen, like forgetting your umbrella on a rainy day or stubbing your toe on the coffee table. Those kinds of bad things suck, but we, as the resilient species we are, tend to get over them rather quickly. Sometimes, worse things happen, like a close friend or family member passing away. These things are much harder to get over, but, again, we are a hard-working species, and we are, typically, able to power through such tragedies. But, sometimes, terrible things happen. Terrible things that simply should never happen on the grounds of how awful they are. And, sometimes, those things aren't possible to get over. They linger, like festering wounds, and we are left to wonder; why did this happen? What, in our society, makes way for such terrible things to take place? The subject matter of this article is one such terrible thing.
Stacey Dean Rambold was a senior high school teacher in Montana who, in 2008, was discovered to be a rapist; he, a then-49-year-old man, had been pursuing a sexual relationship with one of his students, Cherice Morale, who was 14 years old at the time. Rambold originally plead guilty to a single felony charge, and was then charged with three counts of "sexual intercourse without consent." Or, you know, what it's actually called; rape. While the charges were pending and before anything else could happen, however, Cherice took her own life.
Cherice's death threw a wrench into the prosecution, and in 2010, Rambold entered into an agreement that would put the case on hold for three years. The agreement also stated that all charges would be dropped on the condition that Rambold complete a sex offender treatment program. Rambold never completed this program; in fact, he was terminated from it after reportedly missing multiple meetings, engaging in sexual relations with a woman without telling his counselors, and being in the presence of minors with no supervision. Rambold's termination caused the case to re-open and the charges to become threatening once more. In a just world, I would be able to end this article by telling you that Rambold is being locked away for a long time so that he will never be able to do something like this again. Unfortunately, this world is not just, and that is not what happened.
Rambold will only have to serve thirty days in jail. This man, who was in a position of power over a girl barely over the edge of adolescence, who raped the said girl, which eventually became a "major factor" in her suicide, according to her mother, will only have to serve thirty days behind bars.
The logic behind the sentence, according to Rambold's attorney, Jay Lansing, is a mutli-part feature full of victim blaming and general idiocy. Lansing asked the judge to "consider how he's been punished to this point," considering that Lansing had lost his job and marriage, had been "bullied" on the internet because of the case, and that Cherice was "just as much in control of the situation" and "older than her chronological age." You can't make these things up, people. This actual attorney's actual defense of an actual rapist of an actual 14-year-old girl was that she looked kinda old for her age and that, hey, she could have stopped it, too! Rape victims are always in control to the stop the situation, duh!
The case is set to be reviewed, but the chances of anything changing look slim.
As Timothy Geigner over at TechDirt perhaps best puts it, "The internet can be a cruel world, but it isn't as cruel as a teacher raping a 14-year-old girl. It just isn't."
Image courtesy of this video from CNN.