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Montana Supreme Court Blocks Judge's Bid to Resentence Teacher in Rape Case

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(BILLINGS, Mont.) -- Montana's Supreme Court blocked a judge Friday from resentencing a former teacher who was given a 30-day sentence for raping a 14-year-old girl who later committed suicide.

The ruling, which was supported by four of the court's seven justices, was handed down Friday one hour before a hearing was scheduled to void the 31-day prison sentence given to Stacey Rambold.

"We conclude that the stated intent of the District Court to alter the initially imposed oral sentence in today's scheduled hearing is unlawful," the State Supreme Court's ruling said. "We take no position on the legality of the imposed sentence, and will address the parties' arguments in that regard on appeal."

Last week, Rambold, 54, a former teacher at Billings Senior High School, was sentenced to 15 years in prison with all but 31 days suspended and received credit for one day served.

Rambold was charged in October 2008 with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent after he was accused of having a sexual relationship with Cherice Moralez, who was 14 at the time, according to court documents.

She committed suicide in February 2010 while the case was still pending.

District Judge G. Todd Baugh, who imposed the sentence, became the subject of backlash after he said in court that the victim was "older than her chronological age" and had "as much control of the situation" as the teacher, according to the Billings Gazette.

He later said that he regretted his comments.

"I don't know what I was thinking or trying to say," Baugh later told the Billings Gazette. "It was just stupid and wrong."

Baugh initially stood by the sentence, but then scheduled the hearing Friday to determine whether it should be increased by two years.

Attorneys for the state said the sentence was illegal, but that holding the Friday's hearing would "cause gross injustice to an orderly appeal."

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