Montana Supreme Court ends Billings teacher rape case appeal - KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana

Montana Supreme Court ends Billings teacher rape case appeal

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Stacey Rambold (MT Department of Corrections) Stacey Rambold (MT Department of Corrections)

A two sentence order issued Friday by the Montana Supreme Court ended years of litigation involving a Billings teacher convicted of raping a student. 

Chief Justice Mike McGrath ended Stacey Rambold's legal case by granting a previous request from his defense attorney to end his appeal. The attorney said in a motion that any appeal in Rambold's case would be "frivolous or wholly without merit."

McGrath dismissed the case with prejudice, which means it can not be refiled.

The dismissal of the appeal marks the end a legal saga that began in 2007 when Rambold was a teacher at Senior High School where he had a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student, Cherice Moralez.

Rambold was charged the following year with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent, but the case took a turn in 2010 when Moralez committed suicide before a trial could be held.

As a result, Rambold and prosecutors entered a deferred prosecution agreement that mandated Rambold complete sex offender treatment within three years, among other requirements.

But in 2012, before the three year period ended, prosecutors reinstated the charges when they said Rambold had failed to complete treatment. A plea agreement was then struck, and prosecutors agreed to drop two of the charges in exchange for his admission to one of the rape charges.

The case took a controversial turn in August 2013 when Judge G. Todd Baugh sentenced Rambold to 15 years with all but 31 days suspended. At the hearing, Baugh described Moralez as "older than her chronological age" and said the girl was a troubled youth who had "as much control of the situation" as Rambold.

The sentence and the judge's statements drew immediate and harsh reaction from many community members and groups, and news of the case was picked up worldwide. 

Baugh would eventually be disciplined by the Montana Supreme Court for his handling of the case and he retired. The case was returned to another judge for resentencing after the Montana Supreme Court ruled in favor of an appeal field by the Montana Attorney General's Office.

At that hearing in September 2014, Judge Randal Spaulding of Musselshell County sentenced Rambold to 10 years. State prison records show he is currently serving his time at the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge.  

The case also included a wrongful death claim filed by the girl's family against School District 2. The claim was settled for $91,000.

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