Nuff respect. It takes a really big heart to humble yourself enough to say “I was wrong.” May her soul rest in peace.
Yellowstone County Judge G. Todd Baugh says it was ‘stupid and wrong’ to say 14-year-old Cherice Moralez was ‘as much in control of the situation’ as her abuser. The Billings Senior High student killed herself in 2010, but ex-teacher Stacey Rambold will serve just 30 days of a 15-year sentence.
BY DOYLE MURPHY / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh reads a statement on Wednesday apologizing for remarks he made about a 14-year-old girl raped by a teacher in Billings, Mont.
A Montana judge has apologized for claiming a 14-year-old girl was “as much in control of the situation” as a former teacher who admits raping her.
Yellowstone County District Judge G. Todd Baugh also said Monday teen Cherice Moralez was “older than her chronological age” while sentencing ex-teacher Stacey Rambold to serve just 30 days of a 15-year prison sentence.
Moralez killed herself in 2010, and her mother claimed the abuse by Rambold was a “major factor” in her daughter’s suicide, the Billings Gazette reported.
The mother, Auliea Hanlon, stormed out of Monday’s sentencing, shouting “You people suck!”
Baugh has reconsidered his comments, although not the sentence. He wrote an 81-word letter to the Billings paper apologizing for his statements.
“In the Rambold sentencing, I made references to the victim’s age and control,” Baugh wrote. “I’m not sure just what I was attempting to say, but it did not come out correct.
“What I said is demeaning of all women, not what I believe and irrelevant to the sentencing. My apologies to all my fellow citizens.”
Stacey Rambold is due to serve just 30 days of a 15-year prison sentence after he admitted raping a 14-year-old who later committed suicide.
He promised to write an addendum to the court file to better explain the sentence.
Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito, whose deputy prosecuted the case, said he would review the sentence, but prosecutors would need to identify a legal or factual issue in order to launch an appeal.
Hanlon told the Gazette she “looked on in disbelief” at the sentencing.
“I guess somehow it makes a rape more acceptable if you blame the victim, even if she was only 14,” the mother said .
Baugh was also criticized in July after he allowed a 55-year-old Billings woman to strike a deal for a 3-year suspended sentence, avoiding the possibility she would be convicted of drunken driving for the 13th time, CNN reported. The state’s commissioner of higher education blasted Baugh, claiming he told the woman, “If you drink and drive and kill someone, you will spend some real time in prison.”
The criticism in that case was minor compared to the wide-ranging backlash unleashed on the judge as his comments in the Rambold hearing went viral.
AULIEA HANLON/VIA FACEBOOK
Cherice Moralez was 14 when she was raped by her 49-year-old teacher. She later committed suicide.
Protesters, who have called for Baugh’s resignation, vowed to go forward with a demonstration planned for Thursday outside the courthouse.
“I’m glad he apologized, but he should have known better as a judge,” organizer Sheena Rice said. “The fact that he said it makes me think he still believes it.”
An online petition calling for Baugh’s resignation had 26,350 signatures as of 8 a.m. Thursday.
If Baugh doesn’t resign, Rice said, protesters will organize to vote him out in 2014.
Baugh told the Gazette the outrage was “perfectly understandable” and what he said was “stupid and wrong.” However, he defended the sentence, comparing Monday’s hearing to sentencing a probation violator.
The case began in 2008 when prosecutors charged Rambold with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent after learning of his relationship with Moralez.
Former Montana teacher Stacey Rambold was ordered to spend 30 days in jail for raping a student.
The case was still pending in February 2010 when Moralez committed suicide.
Prosecutors, worried about their case without the star witness, made an agreement with Rambold to dismiss the charges if he completed a three-year treatment program.
Program administrators terminated Rambold after he missed meetings, had unsupervised visits with minors and began having sex with a woman.
A civil lawsuit Hanlon filed against the school district revealed that school officials in 2004 ordered Rambold not to touch or spend time alone with female students.
The district settled the case for $91,000.
Baugh said on Monday he didn’t think the actions that got Rambold kicked out of the treatment program warranted years in prison.
Rambold’s attorney said his client was now in a new program.
With News Wire Services