Judge orders hearing to reconsider rape sentence

A Montana judge under fire for his comments about a 14-year-old victim in a schoolhouse rape case has ordered a new sentencing hearing for the former teacher who received just 30 days in prison for the crime.

In setting the hearing for Friday afternoon, District Judge G. Todd Baugh said Tuesday that state law appears to require a two-year mandatory minimum prison term for Stacey Rambold, 54, of Billings.

Rambold last week was sentenced to 15 years with all but 31 days suspended and a one-day credit given for time served. He began serving his monthlong term last week at the state prison in Deer Lodge.

“In the Court’s opinion, imposing a sentence which suspends more than the mandatory minimum would be an illegal sentence,” Baugh wrote.

But in a strange twist, Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito said Baugh may lack authority to impose a longer sentence at this point. That’s because state law says an illegal sentence must be handled through the appeal process.

The judge has faced widespread condemnation from women’s rights activists, elected officials and others for the light sentence and for saying Rambold’s 14-year-old victim, Cherise Moralez, was “older than her chronological age” and asserting that she had some control over her months-long relationship with Rambold.


NAACP leader meets with Ku Klux Klan organizer

A meeting between the Wyoming chapter of the NAACP and an organizer for the Ku Klux Klan over the weekend is believed to be the first of its kind.

The meeting between Jimmy Simmons, president of the Casper NAACP, and John Abarr, a KKK organizer from Great Falls, Mont., took place at a hotel in Casper, Wyo., under tight security, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

The Southern Poverty Law Center and the United Klans of America said Tuesday that the meeting is a first.

Abarr said that he met with Simmons Saturday and ended up filling out an NAACP membership form so he can get the group’s newsletters and some insight into its views. He said he paid the $30 fee to join, plus a $20 donation.

But Abarr said he didn’t ask anybody at the meeting if they would like to join the KKK.


Judge awards $280,000 for manager’s tirade

In a case that gave a legal airing to the debate over use of the N-word among blacks, a federal jury has rejected a black manager’s argument that it was a term of love and endearment when he aimed it at black employee.

Jurors awarded $30,000 in punitive damages Tuesday after finding last week that the manager’s four-minute rant was hostile and discriminatory, and awarding $250,000 in compensatory damages.

The case against Rob Carmona and the employment agency he founded, STRIVE East Harlem, hinged on the what some see as a complex double standard surrounding the word: It’s a degrading slur when uttered by whites but can be used at times with impunity among blacks.

But 38-year-old Brandi Johnson told jurors that being black didn’t make it any less hurtful when Carmona repeatedly targeted her with the slur during a March 2012 tirade about inappropriate workplace attire and unprofessional behavior.