Montana judge: Sharp objections and calls for Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh’s resignation follow the commuting of a rapist’s sentence and the judge’s insensitive remarks. The Montana judge handed down only a 30-day-jail sentence Monday, then compounded the outcry by issuing unbelievably tactless remarks to the victim’s family, reports the Chicago Tribune on Aug. 28.
The teen victim, Cherice Morales, was only 14 years old at the time of the 2008 rape. Cherice took her own life in 2010. Now, the Billings, Mont. family must undergo not only the torture of seeing their deceased child's rapist shortly freed, but being haunted by the calloused words of the man they sought justice from.
The rapist, 54-year-old Stacey Dean Rambold, is a former high school teacher. Prosecutors had asked for Rambold to serve 10 to 20 years for his statutory rape of Morales, but Judge Baugh handed down a 15-year prison sentence with all but 31 days of the jail time suspended.
During the sentencing hearing, Baugh said Cherice looked "older than her chronological age" and was "as much in control of the situation" as her rapist.
In a letter to the Billings Gazette newspaper Wednesday, Baugh tried to apologize, retracting his statement that the minor could be consenting. Under Montana state law, minors under the age of 16 cannot legally consent to a sexual act.
Despite the fact Judge Baugh said his words were "stupid and wrong," he exacerbated the issue and further reinforced his ineptness to pass qualified judgment by trying to differentiate levels of rape.
"I think that people have in mind that this was some violent, forcible, horrible rape… It was horrible enough as it is just given her age, but it wasn't this forcible beat-up rape." -- Judge Baugh
Auliea Hanlon, the victim’s mother, was in the courtroom Monday and screamed at the judge the he "sucked," before storming out in protest after Baugh read his bizarre ruling. Hanlon had previously said that her daughter's rape was a "major factor" in Cherice's suicide.
"I don't believe in justice anymore," Hanlon said in a statement. "She wasn't even old enough to get a driver's license."
Protestors are now calling on the Montana’s governor and attorney general to review Baugh's actions. Petitions calling for Judge Baugh's resignation have flooded the Internet.