Teacher guilty in "blame the victim" case appeals rape sentence

BILLINGS, Mont. - A Montana teacher serving a 10-year prison term in a student rape case that led to the censure of a judge who partially blamed the victim is appealing his sentence to the state Supreme Court.

Fifty-five-year-old Stacey Dean Rambold was sentenced in September by Judge Randal Spaulding exactly a year after he completed an initial one-month prison term for the 2007 rape of a freshman at Billings Senior High School. He's currently incarcerated at Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge.

Rambold attorney Jay Lansing filed the notice of appeal on Nov. 24. No reasons were stated and Lansing could not be reached Monday for comment.

During the first sentencing, Judge G. Todd Baugh suggested the victim had as much control over her rape as the defendant and said she "appeared older than her chronological age." He gave Rambold a 15-year term with all but one month suspended.

That triggered an appeal from prosecutors and ultimately resulted in the case being re-assigned to state District Judge Spaulding.

Rambold pleaded guilty last year to a single count of sexual intercourse without consent in the 2007 rape of 14-year-old Cherice Moralez.

Moralez committed suicide in 2010 while the case was pending.Without their primary witness, prosecutors struck a deal with Rambold that initially allowed him to avoid prison altogether.

Rambold, however, violated that agreement by having unauthorized visits with relatives' children and entering into a relationship with an adult woman without telling his counselor. As a result, the case was revived and that's when Rambold pleaded guilty.