Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Judge beleives that disturbed 14-year-old who later killed herself was "as much in control of the situation" as male teacher who had sex with her

Does this look like the face of a person with the sexual sophistication of a fourteen-year-old? This teacher, and the judge in his case, apparently agreed that since 14-year-old girl had already had sex, the teacher wouldn't be causing any more harm by getting a piece of the action. Others think the teacher took advantage of a disturbed child who ended up killing herself. I wonder if he could have made a difference if he had involved himself in her life in a more positive way.

UPDATE: New opinion piece by Meteor Blades

Unfit judge rules rape victim who killed herself 'was as much in control of the situation' as rapist
by Meteor Blades
Daily Kos
Aug 28, 2013

Outrage is growing against a Billings, Montana, judge who handed down a 30-day sentence to a rapist teacher and said the victim, who had killed herself, "was as much in control of the situation" as the teacher—35 years her senior at the time—because she was “older than her chronological age.” Prosecutors had sought a 20-year sentence in the case, with 10 years suspended. District Judge G. Todd Baugh imposed a 15-year sentence and suspended all but 31 days of it, with one day credited for time already served. The judge noted that the crime "did not warrant a lengthy sentence."

Whatever other rulings the 66-year-old Baugh has made during his time on the bench, that one makes him unfit to serve a single day longer.

The outrage began when the girl's mother, Auliea Hanlon, upon hearing the judge's ruling, stormed out of the courtroom repeatedly screaming "You people suck!" She had testified that the sexual relationship between her 14-year-old daughter and high school teacher Stacey Dean Rambold, then 49, had been a major factor in the girl's suicide a few weeks before her 17th birthday. Talk of the case on the internet and coverage in various traditional media have multiplied Hanlon's outrage far and wide.

Organizers plan a rally and protest for Thursday in a park next to the Yellowstone County Courthouse against District Judge G. Todd Baugh. A petition seeking his removal from the bench has been post online.

The case began in 2008 when Stacey Rambold, now 54, a high school teacher who four years earlier had been warned not to touch or be alone with female students, was discovered to be having a relationship with Cherice Morales, a 14-year-old student. He was arrested and initially pleaded guilty to a single felony charge. He was placed on paid leave from his teaching job, soon resigned and was forced to give up his teaching credential. In October 2008, he was charged with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent. The age of consent in Montana is 16. But before the case came to trial, Cherice killed herself, complicating things for the prosecution.

A settlement was reached. Rambold was granted deferred prosecution and ordered to complete a sexual offender treatment program after which the charges would be dropped. He finished the first two of the program's three phases. But then he stopped coming to sessions. It was learned that he was having unsupervised visits with minors and had begun a sexual relationship with an adult without telling the program's supervisors. "The violations were serious enough when taken together to kick Rambold out of the program, although it was learned that the minors Rambold was visiting were family members." Of course, sexual offenders never ever prey on family members...

Former teacher in Montana gets 30 days in jail for raping student who later committed suicide
By Associated Press
August 27, 2013

BILLINGS, Mont. — A former Billings Senior High School teacher who pleaded guilty to raping a 14-year-old student who later killed herself has been sentenced to 30 days in jail by a judge who said the victim was “older than her chronological age” and “as much in control of the situation” as the teacher.

District Judge G. Todd Baugh sentenced Stacey Dean Rambold to 15 years in prison for sexual intercourse without consent, with all but 31 days suspended. He gave Rambold credit for one day already served, The Billings Gazette reported ( ).

The girl’s mother repeatedly screamed, “You people suck!” and stormed out of the courtroom Monday.

Rambold, now 54, was charged in October 2008 with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent alleging that he had an ongoing sexual relationship with Cherice Morales, starting the previous year when she was 14.

Morales took her own life in February 2010 while the case was pending.

In July 2010, Rambold entered a three-year deferred prosecution agreement with prosecutors that said the charges would be dismissed if Rambold completed a sex offender treatment program and met other conditions, including having no contact with children. He also admitted to one rape charge.

The case was revived last December when prosecutors learned Rambold had been terminated from the sex offender treatment program.

Treatment provider Michael Sullivan said Rambold started missing meetings in August 2012, but Sullivan said he met with Rambold and he appeared to be back on track with his treatment.

Rambold was terminated from the program in November when it was learned that he had been having unsupervised visits with minors, who were family members, and did not inform counselors that he had been having sexual relations with a woman.v Defense attorney Jay Lansing said Rambold has since continued his treatment with a different program and an evaluation found him at low risk to re-offend.

Baugh said he was not convinced that the reasons for Rambold’s termination from treatment were serious enough to warrant the 10-year prison term prosecutors recommended.v The judge said he listened to statements given by Morales before her death and believed that while she was a troubled youth, she was “as much in control of the situation” as Rambold and was “older than her chronological age.”

Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he would not appeal the judge’s sentence.

“We respect the court’s sentencing decision. We obviously disagree with it, based on the recommendations my attorneys made, but it appears to be legally permissible,” he said.

Asked about Baugh’s reasoning that a 14-year-old girl below the state’s age of consent had an equal share of control of the relationship, Twito declined to answer directly.

“The judge’s reasons are his reasons and his reasons alone. He has broad authority under state law, given the proper criteria,” Twito said.

The case resulted in a $91,000 wrongful death settlement between the school district and Morales’ family.

Rambold reached a confidential settlement with the girl’s family.

Mont. judge apologizes for comments in teen's rape
Associated Press
August 28, 2013

ILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Montana judge apologized Wednesday for saying a 14-year-old rape victim was "older than her chronological age" and had as much control of the situation as the teacher who raped her — remarks that prompted protests and a petition for his resignation.

District Judge G. Todd Baugh made the comments Monday while sentencing former Billings Senior High School teacher Stacey Rambold to a 15-year prison sentence then suspending all but 31 days and giving him credit for one day already served.

...Faced with backlash over his comments and the sentence that protesters considered too light, Baugh wrote an apology in a brief letter to the editor to The Billings Gazette. The newspaper provided a copy of the apology to The Associated Press.

"I'm not sure just what I was attempting to say but it did not come out correct," he wrote. "What I said is demeaning of all women, not what I believe and irrelevant to the sentencing. My apologies to all my fellow citizens."

"I will add an addendum to the court file to hopefully better explain the sentence," he added.

A protest scheduled for Thursday outside Yellowstone County Courthouse will go on despite the apology, said organizer Sheena Rice, stressing that it's important for the community to show it is not going to stand for victim blaming.

"I'm glad he apologized, but he should have known better as a judge," Rice said. "The fact that he said it makes me think he still believes it."

A petition will be circulated at the protest calling for Baugh's resignation. An online version of the petition had more than 8,500 signatures by Wednesday morning.

If the petition and protest aren't enough to force Baugh's resignation, protesters will shift to defeating him in the 2014 election, Rice said.

He was first elected to the bench in 1984 and has been re-elected every six years since then without an opponent.

Rambold was charged in October 2008 with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent after authorities alleged he had an ongoing sexual relationship with Cherice Moralez, starting the previous year when she was 14. Moralez killed herself in 2010 at age 16 while the case was pending.

The girl's mother, Auleia Hanlon, said in a statement to the Gazette that she no longer believes in justice after Baugh's sentence and remarks about her daughter.

"She wasn't even old enough to get a driver's license. But Judge Baugh, who never met our daughter, justified the paltry sentence saying she was older than her chronological age," Hanlon said. "I guess somehow it makes a rape more acceptable if you blame the victim, even if she was only 14."

Under state law, children younger than 16 cannot consent to sexual intercourse.

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