Blog: Protesting judge's 31-day sentence of rapist

9:21 PM, Aug 29, 2013   |    comments
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About 500-700 people protested Thursday afternoon in Billings, Montana over a judge's 31-day sentence for an adult rapist of a then-14-year-old teen after the judge partly blames the girl for the rape.

Really? The adult was her teacher and the teen killed herself while the case was still pending and the judge said the teen was "probably as much in control of the situation" as the teacher and that the teen seemed older than her age.

Really? I mean, really?

District Judge G. Todd Baugh came under severe criticism since sentencing former Billings high school teacher Stacey Rambold, 54, Monday to 15 years in prison, then suspending all but 31 days of that sentence  the rape of Cherice Moralez in 2007.

Prosecutors had asked for a 20-year sentence. Moralez killed herself in 2010 at the age of 16.

On Wednesday, Baugh apologized for his remarks but that was hardly enough, in my opinion.

Baugh, 71, was first elected in 1984 and has been re-elected every six years since then without an opponent. He said he has not decided whether to run again in 2014 but has no intention of resigning over this.

Marian Bradley, president of the Montana chapter of National Organization for Women and co-organizer of the rally and Auliea Hanlon, the dead girl's mother, attended the rally.

Kate Olp, co-organizer of the Billings protest and an online petition demanding that Baugh step down, said Baugh's comments may lead victims of sexual assault to avoid reporting it for fear of mistreatment by the legal system.

"He took the responsibility off the shoulders of an adult and placed it on the fragile shoulders of a child," Olp said.

And Baugh had lots of other information and apparently chose to ignore it. For example, prosecutors struck a deal with Rambold in which he admitted to a single rape charge to be dismissed in three years if he successfully completed sex offender treatment.

The case against Rambold, who was suspended in 2008 from his teaching post and ultimately resigned, was reinstated after prosecutors learned he had been expelled from the treatment program for breaking its rules.

What did he do? He had forbidden visits with minors -- family members -- while in the program and he also had a sexual relationship with a woman while in the program.

Oh, did I mention his wife divorced him after he was charged? So he pleaded guilty in April.

It may seem harsh but I think that Baugh and Rambold are the perfect example of two wrongs making -- not a right, as the saying goes -- but any even more disastrous wrong.

It's unfathomable how out of touch Baugh is and Rambold should have to wear a scarlet "R," much like the Scarlet letter "A" of the old story, for the rest of his miserable life. The blood of that teen is on both their hands. 

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