Montana judge: Comments on rape came out wrong
BILLINGS, Mont. — A Montana judge apologized on Wednesday for saying a 14-year-old rape victim was “older than her chronological age” and had as much control of the situation as the teacher who raped her — remarks that prompted protests and a petition for his resignation.
District Judge G. Todd Baugh made the comments on Monday while sentencing former Billings Senior High School teacher Stacey Rambold to a 15-year prison sentence then suspending all but 31 days and giving him credit for one day served.
Yellowstone County officials previously agreed to defer Rambold's prosecution for three years and dismiss the charges if he completed a sexual offender treatment program. The case was revived in December when prosecutors learned Rambold, 54, was kicked out of the program for having unsupervised visits with minors who were family members and not telling counselors he was having a sexual relationship with a woman.
Defense attorney Jay Lansing said Rambold has continued his treatment with a different program, and an evaluation found him at low risk to re-offend.
Faced with backlash over his comments and the sentence that protesters considered too light, Baugh wrote an apology in a brief letter to the editor to The Billings Gazette. The newspaper provided a copy of the apology to The Associated Press.
“I'm not sure just what I was attempting to say, but it did not come out correct,” he wrote. “What I said is demeaning of all women, not what I believe and irrelevant to the sentencing. My apologies to all my fellow citizens.”
“I will add an addendum to the court file to hopefully better explain the sentence,” he added.
A protest scheduled for Thursday outside Yellowstone County Courthouse will go on despite the apology, said organizer Sheena Rice, stressing that it's important for the community to show it is not going to stand for victim blaming.
Rambold was charged in October 2008 with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent because authorities alleged he had an ongoing sexual relationship with Cherice Moralez, starting the previous year when she was 14. Moralez killed herself in 2010 at age 16 while the case was pending.
The girl's mother, Auleia Hanlon, said in a statement to the Gazette that she no longer believes in justice after Baugh's sentence and remarks about her daughter.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Obama signs $607B Defense bill but blasts GOP limits for Gitmo
- ‘Crisis mode’ near at U.S.-Mexico line as nearly 5,000 children try to cross border in October
- Obama: No credible intelligence about terror plot against US
- Peanut glut poses hefty bailout tab for taxpayers
- New Hampshire cancer patient gets permission to travel to Maine for medical pot
- Barrier nears completion in Indiana marsh to keep Asian carp from Great Lakes
- Los Angeles-based water agency’s land buy rattles California farmers
- Foreign policy expert: Obama administration should create Syria safe areas
- Self-driving vehicles closer to getting green light as feds ease stance
- Girls outperform boys in variety of subjects, international survey shows
- Feds tell railroads they must meet deadlines for lifesaving technology