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Montana judge raises eyebrows anew with sentence

| Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013, 2:27 p.m.

The Montana judge who sparked ire by sentencing a former teacher to 30 days in jail for the rape of a 14-year-old girl has ordered a man convicted of punching his girlfriend to write 5,000 times: “Boys do not hit girls.”

District Judge G. Todd Baugh, whose actions in the rape case sparked a national furor and a petition drive to have state officials take disciplinary action, sentenced Pace Anthony Ferguson on Monday to the writing exercise, in addition to six months in jail, for fracturing the woman's face in three places during an August 2012 argument.

Ferguson, 27, was ordered to pay $3,800 in medical bills that resulted from the injuries.

Baugh told Ferguson to number the list, 1 through 5,000, sign it and mail it to him by May 23, according to the Billings Gazette. The six months in county jail is the maximum allowed sentence for the misdemeanor assault.

Ferguson made two appearances in court on Monday.

After being sentenced by Baugh, Ferguson appeared before District Judge Gregory R. Todd for a disposition hearing. The judge ruled that Ferguson had violated the terms of his release from prison after a 2003 robbery conviction and ordered the man to spend eight years in state prison.

Last August, Baugh sentenced Stacey Rambold, a former teacher, to 30 days for raping Cherice Moralez, who later committed suicide. Baugh said Moralez was “as much in control of the situation” as her teacher, and referred to her as a troubled youth “older than her chronological age.”

Moralez was 16 when she killed herself in 2010 after the case was sent to criminal court. After the sentencing led to a national outcry in September, Baugh apologized for his remarks, but not the sentence.

“I don't know what I was thinking or trying to say,” he told the Gazette. “It was just stupid and wrong.”

In a letter to the editor of the paper, he said he was “not sure just what I was attempting to say, but it did not come out correct.”

“What I said is demeaning of all women, not what I believe and irrelevant to the sentencing,” Baugh wrote. “My apologies to all my fellow citizens.”

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