Rambold sentencing assigned to Forsyth judge; hearing yet to be scheduled

2014-06-26T17:00:00Z 2014-07-01T15:13:07Z Rambold sentencing assigned to Forsyth judge; hearing yet to be scheduledBy EDDIE GREGG egregg@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

All the judges in Yellowstone County District Court have recused themselves from presiding over the re-sentencing of Stacey Dean Rambold, a task that has been accepted by a district judge from Forsyth.

An order signed Thursday by all Yellowstone County District Court judges authorizes Judge George “Jerry” Huss of the 16th Judicial District in Forsyth to preside over the resentencing of Rambold, a former Senior High teacher who raped one of his freshman students.

In an order issued in April, the Montana State Supreme Court reversed the one-month sentence Yellowstone County District Judge G. Todd Baugh gave Rambold. Baugh's ruling and comments about the victim drew international attention.

The high court sent the case back to Yellowstone County District Court for resentencing by a judge other than Baugh. On Wednesday, Judge Mary Jane Knisely drew the case at random but recused herself. On Thursday, all other judges in the district also recused themselves.

By law, Knisely said, she had to reassign the case to another judge outside the district. She offered the case to Huss, who accepted it. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Knisely said the case file will be sent to Huss, who will schedule a sentencing date. The sentencing hearing will be held in Billings.

The Montana Supreme Court ruled that Baugh erred when he sentenced Rambold to one month in prison. The office of Attorney General Tim Fox argued before the high court that he should have served a mandatory minimum of four years after pleading guilty to sexual assault without consent.

A few weeks ago, the supreme court ordered suspension and public censure for Baugh over comments he made during Rambold’s initial sentencing last summer.

"It was a troubled youth, but a youth who was probably as much in control of the situation as the defendant, one that was seemingly, although troubled, older than her chronological age," Baugh said.

The Supreme Court rejected this logic completely and severely criticized Baugh's reasoning.

"The idea that (the victim) could have 'control' of the situation is directly at odds with the law, which holds that a youth is incapable of consent and, therefore, lacks control over the situation whatsoever," the court's ruling states.

The court said Baugh’s actions warranted suspension without pay for 31 days. Noting Baugh's term expires at the end of the year and that he did not seek re-election, the court said the suspension would begin on Dec. 1.

The court also set July 1 as the date for a public censure.

Rambold's attorneys had requested a new hearing to press their case that the one month Rambold already served in Montana State Prison was sufficient, but the Montana Supreme Court denied that request earlier this month.

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