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Judge denied do-over in rape ruling

AFP-JIJI

A U.S. judge was blocked Friday from increasing the controversial one-month prison term he imposed on a teacher convicted of raping a 14-year-old student.

Montana’s Supreme Court said Judge G. Todd Baugh could not annul the 31-day sentence he imposed on teacher Stacey Rambold for raping schoolgirl Cherice Moralez, who later committed suicide. But the top tribunal did not rule on the sentence itself, which is expected to be appealed in a higher court and changed to at least two years behind bars.

Baugh, who apologized after his ruling last month sparked protests nationwide, had planned a district court hearing for Friday afternoon to void his sentence. In a court order last week, he said his sentence was “illegal” because it ignored the compulsory minimum sentence of two years in prison.

Baugh sentenced Rambold to 15 years in prison for sexual intercourse without consent after he admitted raping Moralez, but suspended all but 31 days of the sentence. Critics slammed the leniency of the sentence and the judge’s comments in court that Moralez was “older than her chronological age” and “as much in control of the situation” as the now 54-year-old teacher.

Moralez killed herself at the age of 17. Her mother said she believed the rape contributed to her suicide.