Earlier, we told you about the incredible 2008 sentence of Stacey Rambold, a teacher in Monatana who was found guilty of raping a 14-year-old student.
The judge in that case, Yellowstone County District Court Judge G. Todd Baugh, had said that he felt the victim “seemed older than her chronological age” and was “as much in control of the situation” as Rambold.
When the time came for the sentence to be handed down, Judge Baugh gave a 15-year sentence. But he suspended all but one month of the sentence.
The victim’s mother screamed out in the courtroom, “You all suck!”
Stacey Rambold served out his sentence, all 30 days of it, and was released. For 6 years he has been a free man. In the ensuing outrage and appeals, the victim committed suicide in 2010, knowing her attacker was free.
Now Stacey Rambold may be going back to jail.
It turns out that Judge Baugh overstepped his authority in reducing Rambold’s sentence as much as he did. Montana law decrees that, in a rape case where the victim is under the age of 16, there must be a minimum sentence of four years, and no more than two years of that can be suspended.
The Montana Supreme Court overturned Rambold’s sentence.
“The district court lacked authority to suspend all but 31 days of Rambold’s sentence, and its judgment is therefore reversed,” Justice Michael Wheat said in the opinion, joined by five other justices.
It also turns out that Rambold could have avoided all this. He had struck a bargain with prosecutors wherein they agreed to not pursue the case any further if he completed sex offender treatment. But Rambold was dismissed from the program for violating its rules. Therefore, prosecutors have gone after him with a renewed fervor.
Discipline against Judge Baugh himself from the Judicial Standards Commission is pending with the Montana Supreme Court. Justices say that will be handled as a separate issue.
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