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Victim-Blaming Judge Suspended in Montana

The Montana Supreme Court formally reprimanded and suspended (for 31 days) the judge who infamously blamed a 14 year old girl who was raped by one of her teachers and later committed suicide. Judge G. Todd Baugh says he’s going to retire at the end of this year when his term expires.

The Montana Supreme Court on Tuesday censured a judge and suspended him for 31 days for improperly suggesting a 14-year-old girl was culpable in her rape and unlawfully sentencing the former teacher convicted of the crime to just a month in jail.

State District Judge G. Todd Baugh was silent after Montana’s chief justice read aloud a censure statement at a brief hearing Tuesday in Helena. Women’s rights activists have been seeking Baugh’s ouster for almost a year.

In court documents, Baugh admitted responsibility for imposing a lenient sentence on Stacey Rambold for the 2007 sexual assault of Cherice Moralez, but said his own punishment by the Supreme Court was excessive.

Baugh sentenced Rambold to 15 years in prison with all but 31 days suspended, and credit for one day served, during the hearing in August 2013.

During the proceedings he remarked that the teenage victim, who committed suicide before the case could be prosecuted, had been “as much in control of the situation” as the teacher who was 47 when he raped her.

Montana justices said Baugh’s actions undermined public confidence in the judiciary and that state law requires a sentence of at least four years for a defendant guilty of raping a victim under the age of 16.

He should have just been suspended permanently. I hope they’re looking at every other rape case he presided over to make sure he didn’t do the same thing previously.

Comments

  1. D. C. Sessions says

    Give him this: she didn’t kill herself because of the judge’s inexcusable ruling.

    Otherwise I’d be tempted to suggest he do the same as the gent in the joke who was looking for guidance and opened one of Gideon’s bibles at random, stabbed a verse with a finger and read “And Judas hanged himself.” Disturbed, he opened to another random verse and read “Go thou and do likewise.”

    As is, I do worry that the added stress from the shameful [1] way we treat women — and obviously, girls — who have been raped contributed to her death.

    [1] To be clear: What we do is shameful by pretending that somehow they have been.

  2. ButchKitties says

    He thinks his punishment was excessive. He gave a very lax punishment to a rapist, but he has the gall to call a one month suspension at the end of his career excessive.

    I don’t even know how to respond to that.

  3. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @ButchKitties:

    It’s completely consistent and understandable:

    He thinks punishments are excessive – whether for rape or whether for judicial misconduct doesn’t matter.

    Punishments are excessive by definition to Monsieur Judge.

  4. mickll says

    Given that the judge was planning to retire anyway, isn’t this the definition of too little and too late?

  5. trog69 says

    Sorry I’m late, but we need to set up a betting pool on how long before this judge is yet another voice of authority on Fox News. I’ve got exactly 3 months, tops.

  6. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @mickll:

    1) There is no indication that he was planning to retire before the disciplinary process clearly indicated it was going against him.

    2) It would be the definition of too little, too late in any case.

    3) The institution nonetheless needs to take the action, because to do less would be to tell other judges that they can violate both the law and the judicial codes of conduct and the only possible punishment – retirement – will be left to the violator’s own discretion.

    4) The findings here may be used to challenge his license to practice law…or at least that’s how the bar works in some states. Any Montana lawyers know whether the MSC has first bite at judicial misconduct and the MBar uses their work, or whether responsibility for professional penalties such as disbarment, which are technically under the jurisdiction of the Bar, have been delegated to the MSC when an action is initiated against a judge?
    So, y’know, I’m ignorant of the specifics in Montana, but it may be that the judgement rendered in this case will itself be evidence in a bar proceeding.

  7. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @dmmcclean

    Can you suspend something permanently?

    Damocles sure hopes so.

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