Montana rape case judge G. Todd Baugh says he broke ethics code
Montana judge G. Todd Baugh acknowledged that his remarks about rape victim Cherice Morales broke judicial ethics rules, reports the AP. Baugh came under fire after he sentenced former teacher Stacey Jean Rambold, 54, to just one month in prison for the rape of Morales, his 14-year-old student, who later committed suicide. At the time, Baugh said, “I think people have in mind that this was some violent, forcible, horrible rape … but it wasn’t this forcible beat-up rape,” and said the victim “seemed older than her chronological age” and was “as much in control of the situation” as Rambold. Protesters called for Baugh’s resignation after his remarks. Baugh, a District Judge at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, apologized and backpedaled. He even tried to overturn the sentence once he realized that Montana law required a mandatory minimum sentence of two years for Rambold. Baugh said he does not deserve to lose his job, but does deserve censure for “failing to promote confidence in the courts and for not avoiding the appearance of impropriety,” according to the AP.
“I can understand the appearance of impropriety, but I wasn’t trying to blame the victim,” Baugh told the AP. “I don’t think it’s appropriate to be removed.”
The office of Montana Attorney General Tim Fox has appealed Rambold’s sentence as illegal, but Rambold is free on probation until the appeal reaches the Montana Supreme Court. The AP obtained a private letter from Baugh to the Judicial Standards Commission during which he defended his sentence, even after trying to overturn it. He called the sentence “fair” and said Rambold exercised “morally good conduct” after he agreed to a deferred prosecution.
Auliea Hanlon, Morales’ mother, told the AP she doesn’t care if he is censured or removed because neither will bring her daughter back.
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