A 14-year-old girl is raped by her 49-year-old high school teacher. As the criminal case drags on, the girl, now 16, kills herself. The teacher pleads guilty and is sentenced to 30 days in jail.
In 2008, prosecutors charged Stacey Dean Rambold of Billings, Mont., with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent with his student. While the case was pending, just weeks before she would have turned 17, the student committed suicide. This tragedy weakened the prosecution’s case — the victim and primary witness was now dead. Prosecutors entered into an agreement with Rambold, which stipulated that the case would be placed on hold for three years. If Rambold underwent a treatment program, complied with certain conditions, and admitted to one of the rape charges, by the end of three years, the charges would be dismissed.
But this past December, the prosecution reportedly learned that Rambold had failed to comply with these conditions. He allegedly began missing treatment program meetings, had contact with minors (though they turned out to be his relatives), and entered into a sexual relationship without notifying the program, resulting in his expulsion.
On Monday, defense attorney Jay Lansing asked for sympathy for his client: Rambold, he told the court, will now be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Rambold had already lost his job, his wife and his home and had been branded with a “scarlet letter of the Internet.” “Consider how he’s been punished to this point,” Lansing implored the judge. Rambold would be undergoing another treatment program, and an evaluation had determined that he was at low risk to reoffend and deserved a suspended sentence. Judge Todd Baugh was convinced. On Monday, the judge sentenced the former teacher to 15 years in jail, but with all but 31 days suspended. Then the judge gave the defendant credit for one day served, which means Rambold will be in jail for 30 days for the admitted rape of a 14-year-old child.