The criminal case against a former Senior High teacher charged with raping a 14-year-old female student in 2007 was resolved Friday with a deferred prosecution agreement.
Stacey Rambold, his defense attorney Jay Lansing, Chief Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney Rod Souza and Judge G. Todd Baugh signed the agreement Thursday, and the document was filed Friday in District Court.
The agreement includes an admission from Rambold that he performed a sex act on the girl, who attended Senior High where Rambold was a teacher. Rambold also waived his right to a speedy trial for the duration of the agreement.
In exchange for the admission, prosecutors agreed to put the criminal case on hold for three years and eventually to dismiss all three felony rape charges against Rambold.
Among other requirements, Rambold must have no contact with children and must complete a sex offender treatment program within that time, according to the agreement. The treatment program typically lasts between two and three years.
If Rambold fails any requirement in the agreement, the criminal case against him will be resurrected, Souza said.
Souza said the agreement was necessary to resolve the case because the teenage victim took her own life in February. Her death raised difficult issues for the prosecution, Souza said, including Rambold’s right to confront his accuser.
“Without her testimony, the state could not obtain a felony conviction” at trial, Souza said Friday.
The written admission to one of the three felony sex offenses against the girl gives prosecutors “the tools to successfully prosecute” Rambold if he fails any part of the agreement, Souza said.
“Ultimately, there is some measure of accountability and again, if he violates (the agreement), I can reinstitute the prosecution,” the prosecutor said.
Lansing, Rambold’s attorney, could not be reached for comment Friday.
The allegations against Rambold surfaced in 2008. In April of that year, the girl told a church group leader that she had been sexually assaulted by a teacher. The church member told the girl’s mother, who called police.
Rambold, a business and technology teacher, was placed on paid leave shortly after the Billings Police Department began investigating the report. He resigned from the school district in July 2008 and surrendered his Montana teaching certificate.
Rambold was charged on Oct. 31, 2008, with three counts of felony sexual intercourse without consent. He pleaded not guilty to the charges 10 days later and has remained free on a $25,000 bond while the criminal case was pending.
According to charging documents, the ninth-grade girl said she had sexual contact with Rambold three times from October to December 2007. The incidents happened at his house, in his vehicle and in his office. Rambold was 49 when he was charged.
In the deferred-prosecution agreement, Rambold admits to performing oral sex on the girl at his residence in the fall of 2007. He also acknowledges that the girl was incapable of consent because of her age. The age of consent in Montana is 16.
“An admission of this unlawful conduct by (Rambold) will be executed in an affidavit and be retained in the investigative file,” according to the agreement. “In the event that prosecution is reinstituted, (Rambold) understands that such admission shall be termed a judicial admission and may be admitted against him at trial without foundation or corroboration and is in itself sufficient for conviction of the offense charged.”
Rambold is required under the agreement to begin sex offender treatment at South Central Treatment Associates within one week of signing the agreement. Rambold agreed that he will have no contact with children “unless contact with his own children is provided for in a parenting plan” and approved by his treatment providers, according to the agreement.
Souza said Friday that the girl’s family is not happy with the outcome of the case and is “upset with the law” that provides Rambold the right to confront his accuser.
“They have lost a child, and that child was victimized, and the justice they expected may not happen,” Souza said.