Today I read a news story so awful and disappointing that it actually made me feel sick to my stomach. A 49-year-old teacher who was charged with raping his 14-year-old student, who committed suicide a few years later, was given the punishment of only 30 days in jail. Yes, you read that right – 30 days.
Here’s what we know happened: Stacy Dean Rambold was charged with raping his 14-year-old female student, Cherice Morales, when he was 49-years-old. In 2008, when the case was happening, prosecutors charged Rambold with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent, saying that he had an “ongoing sexual relationship” with Morales. But while the case was pending, Morales killed herself only a few weeks before her 17th birthday. Awful, I know. Her suicide apparently “caused problems” for the prosecution and so in July 2010, Rambold entered into an agreement. This agreement meant that the case would be put on hold for three years, during which time Rambold would complete a sex offender treatment program (and go along with a few other conditions).
But Rambold didn’t complete his program like he was supposed to. He was terminated from it and when prosecutors learned that, the case was revived, back in December – and a ruling has finally been made. Despite the fact that Rambold admitted to one of the rape charges and the fact that prosecutors asked for him to serve 20 years in prison, the judge decided on something different. This is where the 30-day-long punishment comes in.
As if that small punishment wasn’t enough to make you angry, the reasoning behind it is even worse. Yellowstone County District Judge G. Todd Baugh basically agreed that Rambold had suffered enough. He agreed with Rambold’s lawyers, who said Rambold had “lost his career, his marriage and his home and has suffered a ‘scarlet letter of the Internet.’” The Judge also said that Morales seemed “older than her chronological age.”
The entire Internet, myself included, is disgusted with the ending to this case. Rambold took advantage of and raped a 14-year-old girl, who later killed herself, but he has suffered enough? Why? Because people know what he did and he has to deal with the shame that he brought upon himself? Because he lost his job, his wife and his home because of something he did to himself? Are you seriously telling me that he doesn’t deserve to be punished any further because he’s already dealt with enough punishment?
What about Morales? She was taken advantage of, raped and obviously depressed enough to kill herself.
Are we supposed to feel bad for Rambold for losing important things in his life? Are we supposed to feel bad enough for him that we’re letting him off with a 30-day jail sentence? Because I certainly don’t. This grown man made the decision to take advantage of his position of power as a teacher and rape a young girl. He knew exactly what the consequences would be. He knew that what he was doing was wrong. He also knew, after he got caught, that he had to attend a sex offender treatment program – and he got kicked out of it because he stopped attending meetings, was around minors alone and was having sexual relations with another woman (something he wasn’t supposed to do). Does that seem like a man who seems especially remorseful over his actions? I absolutely do not think so.
And don’t even get me started on the judge’s comments that the girl seemed “older than her chronological age.” He based this opinion off of recordings he heard of the girl. I’m sorry, but are you effing kidding me? The girl was 14-years-old at the time, meaning she was under the age of consent. The judge makes it seem like the girl went along with this on her own, like she wanted this just as much as Rambold did.
But here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter if Morales seemed like she wanted the relationship – this was a case of statutory rape. Rambold should not have been having sex with a 14-year-old girl regardless of how much she did (or did not) want it to happen. As I have tried to explain to you guys before, it doesn’t matter if the girl is “in love” – it is still statutory rape. Rambold still took advantage of her. Rambold still did the wrong thing. He should be punished for his actions. How does a judge not understand this? How are there people in this world who do not understand that concept? I know a lot of you commented on my post on statutory rape saying that you don’t believe it is rape if the girl wants it – but the thing you need to understand is that it is still rape because the rapist is taking advantage of someone who is not yet old enough to realize exactly what they’re putting themselves into.
I don’t know the exact reasoning behind why Morales killed herself. Her mother claims that a huge part of why she did it was because of her relationship with her teacher. I don’t want to jump to conclusions about this girl’s suicide – she could have been depressed before this sexual relationship even happened and of course, other things could have been going on in her life – but it’s pretty clear that this rape had something to do with it.
This attitude of almost feeling sorry for a man who committed a horrible crime reminds me of the attitude too many people had after the Steubenville rape case. In case you don’t remember (and I wish I could forget), a disgusting amount of people were blaming the victim of the Steubenville rape case, saying she brought it upon herself because she was too intoxicated. They basically said she asked for what she got and so why should the rapists have to be punished for that? Victim blaming is never okay. Feeling sorry for a rapist who has control over his actions makes absolutely no sense to me.
I’m not sorry that Rambold brought this entire situation upon himself. I don’t feel that he suffered enough. He has, up until this point, dealt with the natural consequences of having committed a crime and raping someone. He knew that these consequences were a possibility! It’s not like he went into this thinking that if he got caught, things would be totally fine. Give me a break! This man deserves more jail time and his victim deserves more justice. End of story.
In fact, the judge even apologized for his victim-blaming statements, telling The Billings Gazette, “I don’t know what I was thinking or trying to say. It was just stupid and wrong.” He added that the outrage over his statements were “perfectly understandable.” However, he stands by his sentencing. So was his apology because he actually feels bad, or is it because a petition is going around to get him removed as a judge? You decide.
How do you feel about Rambold’s punishment? Do you think that what he did was okay? Do you agree with the judge that he has already suffered enough? Tell me in the comments.