BILLINGS — The mother of a Billings girl who committed suicide at age 16 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the former teacher who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the girl.
Auliea Hanlon filed the lawsuit in District Court against Stacey Dean Rambold, who last year acknowledged committing a felony sexual offense against Hanlon's then 14-year-old daughter, The Billings Gazette reported.
Rambold pleaded guilty as part of a three-year deferred prosecution reached five months after the girl's February 2010 death. He had been charged with three counts of rape in October 2008, but prosecutors said the plea agreement was the best resolution to the criminal case after the girl's death.
The lawsuit filed Feb. 4 seeks unspecified damages for the loss of the girl's life, her pain and mental anguish, her family's grief and loss of companionship, and medical and funeral expenses. It also seeks punitive damages.
The lawsuit alleges that in 2006 or 2007, when Cherice Moralez was 14 and Rambold was a teacher at Billings Senior High, he developed a relationship with the girl that "became a sexual relationship in the fall of 2007."
"As a result of the sexual assault and its aftermath, Cherice Moralez experienced severe emotional distress, humiliation and embarrassment, and fell into irreversible depression that tragically led to her taking her own life on Feb. 6, 2010," the lawsuit says.
Rambold, who resigned his job as a business and technology teacher in July 2008, declined to comment on the lawsuit Wednesday.