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Montana Rape Case: Stacey Rambold to be released after serving 30 days for rape of 14-year-old

Stacey Rambold KTVQ

(CBS/AP) - The former Montana high school teacher who was sentenced to 30 days in prison for raping his 14-year-old student is due to be released today.

Stacey Rambold, 54, will leave the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge after completing the term handed down by District Judge G. Todd Baugh of Billings last month for the 2007 rape of Cherice Moralez.

Moralez committed suicide in 2010 and her mother has said that Rambold's actions were a "major factor" in the girl's death.

The sentence drew national outrage after Baugh made comments about Moralez including that she was "older than her chronological age" and "as much in control of the situation as was the defendant."

He later apologized, saying: "I made some really stupid remarks. It didn't come out right and I owe the whole county, but maybe even the whole country, especially women, an apology."

Prosecutors said Baugh's lenient sentence was not allowed under a state law that requires Rambold to serve a mandatory minimum of two years in prison.

On Sept. 24, the National Organization for Women (NOW) filed a complaint against Baugh, delivering 144,000 signatures along with the complaint to Montana's Judicial Standards Commission in Helena, reports CBS affiliate KTVQ. The complaint asks that Baugh be removed from the bench "for his misconduct related to his handling of and speech about the rape case involving the sentencing of Stacey Rambold."

Moralez's mother, Auliea Hanlon, spoke with the Associate Press about her feelings on the eve of Rambold's release: "I figured he'd be fired, go to jail, and she would be vindicated, and that would be the end of ...Instead, here it is six years later, still going on, and he's getting out. ... He's still skating."

Hanlon said her focus remains on Rambold and the appeal of his sentence, which prosecutors said could take six to 18 months to work its way through the Montana Supreme Court.

For years, Hanlon said she carried around a photograph of her daughter's rapist, so she would recognize him if they ever crossed paths. With his return to Billings, she said she likely would walk away if she encountered him now.

"I considered going down to the jail to forgive him, but I don't know," she said. "I'm still waiting for a sign from God."

State officials say Rambold must register as a sex offender and will remain on probation as prosecutors appeal the case to the Supreme Court in hopes of sending him back to prison for a longer term.

Rambold's attorney, Jay Lansing, declined to comment on the defendant's release.

In court documents and during the sentencing hearing, Lansing described his client as a one-time offender with no prior record who took responsibility for his actions when he admitted to a single count of rape under a 2010 deferred prosecution agreement that was made after Moralez killed herself.

Moralez felt guilty for ruining Rambold's life, and was ostracized and ridiculed by her peers after details in the case became public, Hanlon said.

The agreement with prosecutors allowed Rambold to remain free for more than three years until he was kicked out of his sex offender treatment program for unauthorized visits with relatives' children and for not disclosing that he was in a sexual relationship with a Washington woman.

At the time, Rambold was renting an apartment in Billings and working as a telephone trainer for a technology company, according to court documents.

Complete coverage of the Stacey Rambold case on Crimesider