Montana teacher in prison for raping student appeals sentence to state Supreme Court

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BILLINGS, Montana — A Montana teacher serving prison time in a notorious student rape case has appealed his sentence to the state Supreme Court, but he's likely to remain incarcerated while the appeal is pending, according to court filings and the prosecutor in the case.

Stacey Dean Rambold, 55, of Billings, was sentenced in September to 10 years in prison with another five years suspended for the 2007 rape of a 14-year-old student.

The former business teacher is currently incarcerated at Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge.

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

Under state law, Rambold must continue serving his sentence while the high court considers the appeal, said Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito, who prosecuted the case.

"He does his time and the appeal unfolds," Twito said.

The appeal will be handled by the Montana Attorney General's Office.

Rambold pleaded guilty last year to a single count of sexual intercourse without consent in the rape of Cherice Moralez, a freshman student in Rambold's business class at Billings Senior High School.

He initially received just a month in prison from state District Judge G. Todd Baugh. That lenient sentence was shot down as illegal after prosecutors appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Baugh was eventually removed from the case and censured by the high court for suggesting that Moralez shared some of the blame for her rape. Under Montana law, children under 16 cannot consent to sexual intercourse.

The judge also received a 31-day suspension and announced he would retire before his term was due to end in January. Baugh is no longer serving as a judge.

Rambold's case was later re-assigned to Judge Randal Spaulding for a new sentencing hearing.

During that hearing, Rambold's attorney, Lansing, asked the court for a 15-year sentence with all but two years suspended. Lansing pointed out that the defendant had no prior criminal record, underwent sex offender treatment and was considered by the state as a low risk to re-offend.

Spaulding said the nature of the crime outweighed those factors.

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