Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Montana judge defends 30-day sentence for girl's rape

BILLINGS, Mont. — Faced with growing backlash, a Billings, Mont., judge who sentenced a man to 30 days for raping a 14-year-old girl is standing by his decision and comments that the girl was older than her "chronological age" when it came to sexual matters.

District Judge G. Todd Baugh handed down the sentence Monday after former Billings Senior High School teacher Stacey Rambold, 54, was terminated from a sexual offender treatment program that was part of a deal to have his prosecution deferred. The judge said he wasn't convinced that the reasons for Rambold's termination from the program were serious enough to warrant a 10-year prison term recommended by prosecutors.

In handing down the sentence, Baugh also said Cherice Moralez was "older than her chronological age" and "as much in control of the situation" as the teacher.

Moralez killed herself in 2010 at age 16 while the case was pending.

A petition for the judge's censure is being drafted and a protest was scheduled for Thursday at Veterans Memorial Park, which adjoins Yellowstone County Courthouse in downtown Billings.

The girl's mother, Auleia Hanlon, left the sentencing hearing screaming, "You people suck!" She said in a statement Tuesday she no longer believes in justice after Baugh's remarks and sentence, the Billings Gazette reported.

"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.

Baugh told the newspaper Tuesday that he stood by his comments that Moralez was a troubled youth who was older than her age when it came to sexual matters. That didn't make Rambold's sex with Moralez any less of a crime, he said.

"Obviously, a 14-year-old can't consent. I think that people have in mind that this was some violent, forcible, horrible rape," Baugh said. "It was horrible enough as it is just given her age, but it wasn't this forcible beat-up rape."

Moralez's death complicated the case, Baugh said. The prosecution and defense reached an agreement after her death that Rambold would enter sexual-offender treatment.

If the former teacher completed treatment and complied with other conditions, the case would have been closed.

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.

"I think what people are seeing is a sentence for rape of 30 days. Obviously on the face of it, if you look at it that way, it's crazy," Baugh said. "No wonder people are upset. I'd be upset, too, if that happened."

Montana judge defends 30-day sentence for girl's rape 08/28/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 12:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tributes pour in for ex-national security adviser Brzezinski

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — Well before he went to the White House in 1977, Jimmy Carter was impressed by the views of foreign policy expert Zbigniew Brzezinski. That Carter immediately liked the Polish-born academic advising his campaign was a plus.

    Foreign policy expert Zbigniew Brzezinski died Friday.
  2. One year after deaths, Sunset Music Festival kicks off with emphasis on water and security

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Before the beat drops, or even builds, you hear Steve-O.

    "If you don't get water you're lame!"

    "Hey! Free water! Come on!"

    Steve "Steve-O" Raymond motions to guests making the line to grab free water bottle at the entrance of the Sunset Music Festival on the grounds of the Raymond James Stadium parking lot in Tampa. ( LUIS SANTANA   |   Times)
  3. Twins eventually cash in as Rays lose, fall back to .500 (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays could only battle their way out of trouble for so long Saturday afternoon before succumbing in a 5-2 loss to the Twins.

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 27: Brian Dozier #2 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates hitting a two-run home run as Derek Norris #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on during the eighth inning of the game on May 27, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rays 5-3. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) 700010973
  4. Rays Tales: The stories behind Corey Dickerson's ascension

    The Heater

    The 25 pounds DH/LF Corey Dickerson lost during the winter through diet and exercise are considered the primary reason for his ascension to one of the American League's most productive hitters, going into the weekend leading in hits, multi-hit games and total bases, and ranked in the top five in average, runs and …

    Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) connects for a sac fly, scores Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Steve Pearce (28) in the fourth inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
  5. Fans in Florida and beyond won't forget Gregg Allman

    Music & Concerts

    The end can come quickly for those who live fast and live hard, who create worlds with their talent and sometimes come close to throwing them away.

    This Oct. 13, 2011 file photo shows Gregg Allman performs at the Americana Music Association awards show in Nashville, Tenn. On Saturday, May 27, 2017, a publicist said the musician, the singer for The Allman Brothers Band, has died. (AP Photo/Joe Howell, File)