Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh this week apologized for having characterized a 14 year old victim of statutory rape as “older than her chronological years.” According to Montana law, children under the age of 16 cannot consent to sex.
The judge had commented that this was not “some violent, forcible, horrible rape,” suggesting that the young victim, Cherice Moralez, was very much in control of her sexual relationship with teacher, Stacey Rambold.
It did not occur to Judge Baugh to apologize until public pressure developed for his resignation. The judge did not apologize for having sentenced Rambold to 30 days (the bulk of his 15 year sentence suspended).
The sentence is an insult to women everywhere and rape victims, in particular. Judge Baugh gave as his reason for it the fact Rambold was unlikely to repeat the crime.
It is difficult to fathom how the judge reached that conclusion, given the fact Rambold had already violated the terms of a sexual offender program, completion of which would have assured him the dismissal of all charges. That denotes a predator unwilling to abandon his hunt for defenseless victims.
The judge did not discuss the fact prosecution was deferred 3 years to accommodate the predator. The young victim meanwhile committed suicide, at age 16.
Statutory rape laws are in place to protect our children as they mature, sexually and otherwise. The teachers to whom we entrust our children are under an obligation to protect – not molest – them. Clearly, Judge Baugh does not understand that 14 is 14.
Regrettably, the judge does not intend to resign. There is no plan to appeal.
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