Supreme Court Steps in After Judge Blames 14-Year-Old Rape Victim, Sentences Her Attacker to Just 30 Days in Prison
The Montana Supreme Court has overturned the 30-day prison sentence that a teacher received after raping a 14-year-old girl and will re-sentence him for his horrific crime.
Last year, Yellowstone County District Judge G. Todd Baugh caused massive outrage after he sentenced 54-year-old Stacey Dean Rambold to just a month in prison, implying that his 14-year-old victim, who killed herself following the incident, was “complicit” in the rape.
Baugh had accused the victim, Cherice Moralez, of being “in control of the situation” and said she “seemed older than her chronological age.”
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that Baugh’s sentence “reflected an improper basis for his decision and cast serious doubt on the appearance of justice. There is no basis in the law for the court’s distinction between the victim’s ‘chronological age’ and the court’s perception of her maturity.”
Rambold’s attorneys argue that the original sentence was “appropriate.” Prosecutors say Rambold should serve the mandatory minimum of four years for his crime.
Assistant Attorney Tammy Plubell says “Rambold continues to perpetuate the myth that a 14-year-old girl should bear responsibility for her sexual victimization by a 47-year-old teacher. The law, though, rightly defines her as blameless.”
Since Rambold’s initial 15-year sentence which was suspended for all but 30 days was overturned, Rambold’s new sentence will require a mandatory minimum of at least two years in prison.
Marian Bradley, the president of Montana’s National Organization for Women, said “the other part of the victory will be when something is done about Baugh.”
Baugh is facing a complaint and says “I expect at some point to appear before [the Supreme Court panel], but don’t know when.”
Baugh, 72, has served on the bench since 1984 and admits he deserves a reprimand or censure. He also says he plans to retire when his six-year term expires this year.