Cherice Moralez

EXCLUSIVE: Cherry was raped by her teacher at 14. Classmates shunned her for  reporting it. Then she shot herself dead in her mother’s bed. Family reveal her  ‘living hell’ and their fury that her attacker got just 30 days in jail

  • Cherice Moralez, 14 at the time, was  bullied by classmates after charges were brought against her Montana teacher  Stacey Rambold, 48
  • Friends ‘gave her dark looks and walked  on other side of school corridor’
  • Cherice was found by her horrified mother  in her bed after shooting herself dead when it became too much to  bear
  • School had issued Rambold with a warning  over inappropriate behavior four years before he raped Cherice but left him in  charge of minors
  • Rambold admitted to raping the vulnerable  teenager on several occasions in 2007 in his marital home, car and  office
  • Judge gave Rambold just 30 days in jail  instead of maximum of life because ‘he’d suffered enough’ and claimed Cherry was  ‘in control’
  • Family hit back saying: ‘He is the  highest authority of law and he pretty much just said it’s okay’
  • ‘This guy was 48. She was 14. You think  you’re all grown up at 14 but you’re not. She wasn’t. She needed protecting and  looking after’
  • Protests planned for today and nationwide  petition calling for judge’s removal has 10,000 signatures

By  Laura Collins In Billings, Montana Daily Mail PUBLISHED: 28 August 2013

The full horror of the torment endured by a  schoolgirl who shot herself dead in her mother’s bed after being repeatedly  raped by a teacher who will serve just 30 days in jail can be revealed  today.

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline family  members have told how Cherice Moralez, 14 at the time of her ordeal, was shunned  and bullied by classmates after charges were brought against her Montana teacher  Stacey Rambold – who admitted to raping the vulnerable teenager on several  occasions in 2007.

The family have spoken of their sense of  injustice and their horror at revelations that the school district had issued  Rambold, 48, with a warning over inappropriate behavior four years before he  groomed Cherice, but left him in charge of minors.

sHorror: Cherice Moralez, pictured, shot herself dead in  her mother’s bed after being repeatedly raped by a teacher who will serve just  30 days in jail


One relative said: ‘They say religion is for  people who’re afraid to go to hell and spirituality is for people who’ve already  been there.

‘Well that’s where Cherry was. She was in  hell. She was beautiful and he took away  everything beautiful.’

The ordeal and the legal process that began  with Rambold’s arrest in 2008, was too much for Cherry, as family knew her, to  bear.

After being haunted by the ordeal for over a  year, on February 6, 2010, three weeks short of her 17th birthday she shot  herself in her mother’s bed.

Now those who witnessed Cherry’s suffering  have spoken of their anguish and disbelief at the paltry sentence handed down in  Billings District Court on Monday.

Rambold was charged on three counts of Sexual  Intercourse Without Consent (Felony) in July 2010.

The prosecution was deferred for 36 months on  various conditions including completing the Sexual Offender Treatment Program at  South Central Treatment with Micheal Sullivan.


Anguish: Cherry’s relatives have spoken out about how  the teen was stunned and bullied after her attacker was charged. They have also  described their anguish and despair at her attacker’s paltry sentence




Post the case being revived, and in the  absence of a victim anymore he pleaded guilty to one of these  counts.

The prosecution had recommended a 20 year  sentence with 10 years suspended. The maximum Rambold faced was  life.

Instead Judge G Todd Baugh appeared to agree  with the defense assertion that Rambold had ‘suffered enough’ in losing his job,  his wife, his teaching license and his house.

The decision, and the remarks of the judge  who has been forced to defend it, come as a bitter final blow to Cherry’s  family.

Cherry’s mother Auliea Moralez accused the  judge of ‘trying to make rape more acceptable,’ when, in handing down his  judgment Judge Baugh described Cherry as ‘older than her years’ and ‘in control  of the situation.’

His words have provoked widespread outrage.  Within a day of being posted, a petition by democratic campaigning website  MoveOn.org, calling for his removal from office had garnered more than 10,000  signatures and a protest is to be held today in front of the town  courthouse.


Tormented: ‘She was in hell. She was beautiful and he  took away everything beautiful,’ Cherry’s relative told MailOnline in an  exclusive interview


An interview with local newspaper The  Billings Gazette in which the District Judge stood by his decision only incited  further outrage as he sought to clarify his stance with the statement:  ‘Obviously a 14-year-old can’t consent. I think the people have in mind that  this was some violent, forcible, horrible rape.

‘It was horrible enough as it is just given  her age, but it wasn’t this forcible beat-up thing.’

Reacting to the comments a close family  member old MailOnline: ‘He is the highest authority of law and he pretty much  just said, “Oh it’s okay. She went along with it. So it’s okay.” And it’s not  okay.

‘This guy was 48. She was 14. You think  you’re all grown up at 14 but you’re not. She wasn’t. She needed protecting and  looking after.’

Instead, some of the family now believe she  was left open to a sexual predator who was already on the school district’s  radar.

Rambold had received a warning four years  earlier to avoid touching or being alone with female students.

sOutrage: Some of Cherry’s family now believe she was  left open to a sexual predator who was already on the school district’s radar,  having received a warning four years before the rapes


A court affidavit first reported by KTVQ in  2008, stated: ‘In 2004 Senior High principal Scott Anderson met with Rambold to  discuss allegations that he touched a girl’s thigh and waist and was told to  keep, ‘his hands off all students.’

The court affidavit reportedly said Anderson  warned Rambold, ‘anything further would result in a formal investigation and a  copy in his personnel file.’

Cherry’s relative said this only added to the  family’s fury.

‘Tell me how this makes sense? The law says  that anything under 16 is illegal,’ the relative said. ‘The man signed a  confession. He did it and he got to walk away.’

She continued: ‘The judge let everybody off  with that sentence. He let the school off, he let Rambold off… I’m not saying  that he was the only reason she took her life but that was the straw that broke  the camel’s back.’

On the day of her death, Cherry had been due  to join her mother and young brother at the Pine Derby for Boy Scouts but  changed her mind at the last minute.

When the family returned home later that day,  one relative recalled, Cherry’s mother thought her daughter was sleeping in her  room.

Rambold, 54, lost his house, his job, his teaching license and his wife as a result of the charges. His lawyer suggested he had been 'punished enough'Teacher: Rambold, 54, lost his house, his job, his  teaching license and his wife as a result of the charges. His lawyer suggested,  and the judge seemed to agree on Monday, that he had been ‘punished  enough’
Fury: Auliea Hanlon, Cherice's mother, said Judge Baugh resorted to 'blaming the victim' and pointed out that her daughter wasn't even old enough to drive a carFury: Auliea Hanlon, Cherice’s mother, said Judge Baugh  resorted to ‘blaming the victim’ and pointed out that her daughter wasn’t even  old enough to drive a car

‘It must have been 15 minutes or so before  Auliea went into check, Cherry was in her mom’s bed.

She thought she was sleeping then she put on  the light.

‘She’ll spend a long time trying to get rid  of the image of what she saw.’

Her daughter had shot herself where she  lay.

According to the relative Cherry’s mother  ‘was not perfect’ but tried her best to look out for her admittedly wayward –  and vulnerable – daughter.

Cherry’s parents were divorced and she split  her time between mother Auliea and her natural father John Moralez.

Auliea now lives with Raymond Hanlon who she  married after her divorce and went on to have three children with. For a while Cherry lived with her  grandmother.

According to the family it was an utter shock  when, in April 2008, a member of the church group Cherry attended told her  mother that Cherry had made allegations regarding Rambold.

One said: ‘Her mother made a point of writing  down all the contact names and numbers in Cherry’s phone.

‘She had Stacey written down with the rest  but she thought it was a girl. She had no idea.’

Cherry’s family were united in their decision  to press charges and pursue Rambold and the School District through the  court.

Judge Todd Baugh attempted to defend his remarks about a teenage rape victim by explaining that her sexual contact with a teacher wasn't a 'forcible, beat-up rape'Defense: Judge Todd Baugh, pictured, attempted to defend  his remarks about Cherry by explaining that her sexual contact with her teacher  wasn’t a ‘forcible, beat-up rape’
It was later revealed that administrators at Billings Senior High School had warned Rambold not to touch female students or be alone with themWarning: It was later revealed that administrators at  Billings Senior High School, pictured, had warned Rambold not to touch female  students or be alone with them back in 2004

The teen had, the relative explained, been  reluctant to press charges for fear of the social stigma.

Her anxieties were tragically realised: ‘When  you’re a teenager your whole life revolves around friends, buddies and social  ties.

‘But after this happened she had none of  those really. It was all dark looks, people would step out of the way, shun  her.

‘He ruined her life in school. And she went  back and she went back and she went back until it was just too  much.’

Vulnerable and in need of support Cherry  found many former friends at Billings Senior High School shunned her once rumors  of the then 14 year old’s ‘affair’ with Stacey Rambold, then 49, took  hold.

The protracted and confusing legal process  did not help.

Rambold was arrested on 31 October 2008 and  charged on three counts of sexual intercourse without consent.

Charging documents show that Cherry was a  ninth grader when she had sexual contact with Rambold three times between  October and December 2007.

One encounter took place in his car, one in  the business and technology teacher’s office and the third as the twice-married  man’s marital home.

Tragic: Cherice Morales killed herself just before her 17th birthday while the criminal case against her teacher was pending. As a result, prosecutors had to dismiss the chargesIntense bullying: ‘After this happened… It was all  dark looks, people would step out of the way, shun her,’ the relative told  MailOnline of Cherry’s school life

The truth had exploded earlier that summer,  leaving the Moralez’s family riven and showing an impact on Rambold’s own  domestic situation.

He and his second wife separated in June  2008. The divorce was finalized in July, the same month he resigned from the  teaching post from which he was on paid leave.

But while the criminal case was pending  Cherry took her life. Without her testimony the state could not obtain the  felony convictions they were seeking in trial.

In July 2010 a deferred prosecution was  offered as a compromise – Rambold pleaded guilty to one of the three counts and  agreed to undertake sexual offender counseling.

Under the agreement the criminal charges  would have been dismissed within three years if Rambold abided by the sex  offender treatment and other stipulations.

Auliea Moralez brought a Wrongful Death Case  against the school in 2011 and was awarded $91,000 in a settlement – a condition  of which is confidentiality on the agreement details.

But Rambold did not abide by the conditions  of his deferred sentence. He was thrown off the sex offender programme for  having sexual relations with a woman and failing to disclose this to his  probation officer. He also broke the conditions by being in the company of minor  – albeit supervised visits to family members.


Cherice Morales
Cherice Morales

Her fault? Judge Todd Baugh ruled that Cherice  was  ‘older than her chronological age’ and that in listening to the  girl’s police  interviews, he came to believe that she was in control of  the relationship with  her teacher


But though this revived the case in December  2010, this week Judge Baugh stated that he did not consider these violations  ‘serious.’

‘This whole thing,’ Cherry’s relative  admitted, ‘Has just floored us. We went along on Monday expecting, I don’t  know… something.

‘Instead you’ve got this kind of slimy guy  who just seems to skim along just fine.

‘So he thinks his life is ruined? If it is  it’s because he chose that – he made a conscious decision every single day he  woke up and did what he did.

‘Cherry was 14-years-old.’

In a rambling defense of his comments and the  sentence he handed Rambold, the judge told the Billings Gazette on Tuesday: ‘I  think what people are seeing is a sentence for rape of 30 days.

‘Obviously on the face of it, if you look at  it in that way, it’s crazy.

‘No wonder people are upset. I’d be upset,  too, if that happened.’

But the judge insisted the reasons for  Rambold’s termination from the sex offender programme were not serious enough to  warrant the lengthy prison sentence the prosecution was seeking.

Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito  expressed his frustration at this. He said: ‘We respect the judge but we  vehemently disagree with his sentencing decision.

‘I sent one of my best deputies who’s my  chief deputy, down there to fight this out and unfortunately the judge did not  agree with our recommendation, which included substantial prison  time.’

He admitted there were ‘limited avenues to  explore’ in terms of appealing the sentence.

For confidential support, call the  Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90, log on to www.samaritans.org or visit a local  branch.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2405280/Cherice-Moralez-case-Family-14-year-old-committed-suicide-rape-reveal-living-hell-fury-teacher-got-just-30-days-jail.html#ixzz2dKepS5wf Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook




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