September 3, 2013

Another View: Montana judge sets new low for blaming victim in rape case

Sentencing a 49-year-old man to 30 days for exploiting a 14-year-old is an outrage.

The Washington Post

The apology by a Montana judge for his appallingly ignorant comments that blamed the young victim of the man being sentenced for her rape is meaningless. It is also as insulting as his original remarks. That's because worse than the comments were the scant 30 days in jail for the rapist, an absurd sentence that the judge has continued to defend as appropriate.

"It wasn't this forcible, beat-up rape," said Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh as he stood by his sentence of a former high school teacher, convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl who later committed suicide. So ill-suited is this judge to serve on the bench that, if he refuses the mounting calls for his resignation, Montana authorities should take the necessary action to remove him. They also should seek to appeal the sentence.

An immediate uproar followed the sentencing of Stacey Dean Rambold in Yellowstone County District Court. Baugh said that, after reviewing statements made by the girl before her death, he concluded she was a troubled youth. Cherice Morales, who was 14 when the then 49-year-old Rambold groomed her for sex, was "older than her chronological age" and "as much in control of the situation" as her teacher, the judge said.

"I'm not sure just what I was attempting to say, but it did not come out correct," the judge said in a mea culpa issued to the Billings Gazette last week. He said he would file an addendum to the court file to "hopefully better explain the sentence." Actually, Montana residents, along with much of the nation, know all they need to know about this case and this judge

His parsing of the sexual exploitation of a troubled teenager by a teacher in a position of trust sent the message that this is a crime that is not to be taken all that seriously. Baugh's ignorant notions about rape and his insensitivity to victims are an absolute affront to justice, and he should immediately resign.


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