In August 2013, Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh effectively sentenced a man who raped a 14-year-old girl to a single month in prison. Now, the state Supreme Court has censured Baugh and suspended him from the bench for 31 days. Although Baugh technically sentenced perpetrator Stacey Rambold—the girl’s former teacher, who was in his late 40s at the time of the rape—to 15 years in prison, he suspended all but 31 days. The judge also said the victim was “as much in control of the situation” as the convicted rapist. Shortly after the ruling, Baugh publicly apologized for comments made about the victim.The judge’s decision was more than just controversial; it was also illegal. Montana requires a minimum of four-year sentences for rape cases in which the victim is younger than 16. The victim, Cherice Moralez, committed suicide before her teacher was sentenced.The Supreme Court also overturned Rambold’s sentence in April of this year. The resentencing by a new judge is scheduled for September.
Jessica Corbett, a former In These Times intern, is a Maine-based staff writer at Common Dreams. Follow her on Twitter at @corbett_jessica.