BILLINGS, Mont. – The mother of a 14-year-old girl who was raped by her teacher and later committed suicide appeared at a raucous Thursday protest against the judge who sentenced the man to a month in jail and said the victim was older than her chronological age.
The protest came as prosecutors considered an appeal of the sentence by Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh, whose actions in the case have drawn condemnation from across the country. Joining in the backlash was Montanas governor, who said the judges comments made me angry.
The victims mother, Auliea Hanlon, said the judge was merely covering his butt when he apologized Wednesday for his comments. She criticized him for standing by the relatively light sentence given to former Billings Senior High School teacher Stacey Rambold.
Hes just covering his butt. He wouldnt have said anything if people hadnt spoken up, Hanlon said. He didnt reverse his decision, so its irrelevant.
Hanlons daughter, Cherice Moralez, killed herself before Rambolds case came to trial.
A legal review of Mondays sentencing suggests Rambold may have gotten off too easily.
That review determined that if Baugh had applied the proper section of state law, the defendant would have received a minimum of two years in prison, according to a memo sent by Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito to the appellate division of the state Attorney Generals Office.
Prosecutors had sought a 20-year sentence with 10 years suspended.
Baugh ordered Rambold to serve 15 years, with all but 31 days suspended and a one-day credit for time already served.
The state has 20 days to appeal the sentence.
Twito said hes working with the appellate division to decide whether to take that step.
It will be looked at and reviewed carefully before any action or any decision is made, Twito said.