State urges court to reject hearing in rape case
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Attorney General's office urged the state Supreme Court on Friday to stand by a recent ruling that would send a former teacher back to prison for raping his 14-year-old student.
Attorneys for Stacey Dean Rambold are seeking a new hearing on the ruling that said the former Billings Senior High School teacher should serve at least two more years in prison. The Supreme Court said his original one-month sentence was too lenient and chided the judge involved for his handling of the case.
Rambold's attorneys have argued that District Judge G. Todd Baugh was right to factor in the girl's conduct when he handed down the short prison sentence last year. They suggested the girl bore some responsibility and referenced videotaped interviews with her before her death. Those interviews remain under seal by the court.
Assistant Attorney General Tammy Plubell responded Friday that no blame can be attached to the girl under state law. She stressed that Rambold's actions — not the girl's — were at issue.
"Rambold is free to present his hypotheticals to support his position that he deserves the most lenient sentence allowed," Plubell wrote. "But, the fact remains that he is guilty of sexual intercourse without consent based upon his conduct of repeatedly sexually victimizing his 14-year-old student."
Plubell added that the high court's unanimous April 30 ruling should stand, which would send the case back to a new judge for re-sentencing.
The girl committed suicide while the case was pending, robbing authorities in Yellowstone County of their main witness and leading to a deferred prosecution agreement.
Rambold eventually pleaded guilty to sexual intercourse without consent. Two additional rape counts were dropped under the deal with prosecutors, and Baugh sentenced him to a 15 year term with all but one month suspended.
Rambold has been free since serving his time last fall. He now lives in Billings, where he's registered as a low-risk sex offender. His attorney, Jay Lansing, could not be reached immediately for comment.