Prosecutors in Billings, Montana are looking for legal standing to fight a 30-day sentence handed down to a teacher who admitted to raping his 14-year-old student.
The girl later took her own life.
"This case is very important. As I've said before, this resulted in the loss of one of our young people in my community," said Scott Twito, a prosecutor with the Yellowstone County attorney's office. "We take these charges very seriously. And we fight for those victims."
He said he strongly disagrees with the sentence District Judge G. Todd Baugh gave to Stacey Dean Rambold this week.
CNN obtained a copy of a memo from Twito's office to the Montana attorney general's office, which is reviewing the case.
In the letter, attorneys argue the relevant statue was "misapplied and the minimum sentence that could be imposed in Rambold's case was two years."
As prosecutors weigh a possible appeal, hundreds of protesters rallied at a Billings courthouse Thursday, demanding the judge step down.
The protest was organized in part by the National Organization for Women. Demonstrators waved signs and called for a review of Baugh's prior caseload, a reporter from CNN affiliate KTVQ said.
One poster read simply: "Resign." Another said: "Justice 4 Cherice," referring to the teenage victim in the case, Cherice Moralez.
"The demand and goal of this is to ask the judge to resign. The broader message is to really unite as a community against victim-blaming," said protest organizer Sheena Davis, adding that the protest aimed to address "a larger issue on how we protect children from rape in this justice system."
So far, more than 33,000 people have signed a petition at MoveOn.org, demanding that Baugh resign.
"I told them the judge was wrong"
Cherice's mother is outraged that Rambold, who admitted raping the girl while he was a teacher at her high school, received only a month in prison, whereas Cherice took her own life.
"It discourages other kids from coming forward. If they come forward, what's going to happen? Nothing," Auliea Hanlon, told CNN in an interview that aired Thursday night.
She struggled to speak as she talked about trying to explain the sentence to her other children.
"They said, 'Oh, did he hurt her mom?' Well, yes he did. 'Oh, what happened to him?' Nothing," she said, adding: "I told them the judge was wrong."
In earlier interviews, Hanlon said she was particularly upset that the judge said Cherice "seemed older than her chronological age" and was "as much in control of the situation" as the teacher.
"How could she be in control of the situation? He was a teacher. She was a student. She wasn't in control of anything. She was 14," Hanlon told CNN.
Baugh apologized on Wednesday.
"I made some references to the victim's age and control," he told KTVQ. "I'm not sure just what I was attempting to say at that point, but it didn't come out correct. What I said was demeaning to all women, not what I believe in and irrelevant to the sentencing."
About the sentencing itself, Baugh said he would file an addendum to the case file to "better explain" his rationale.
The case began in 2008 when Cherice, then 14, was a student at Billings Senior High School and Rambold, then 49, was a teacher.
Hanlon claims Rambold's "pre-sexual grooming" of her daughter led to the pair having sex.
School officials learned of the relationship, and Rambold resigned.