Our View: Billings judge should step aside in rape case
August 29, 2013
Montana is in the national news once again, his time because of incredibly insensitive remarks by a judge sentencing a Billings high school teacher for raping a 14-year-old girl.
District Judge G. Todd Baugh said the victim, raped by then-teacher Stacey Rambold, was “older than her chronological age” and had as much control over the situation as the teacher.
It sounded much like the old “she was asking for it,” response that rapists often used in past years.
This was a horrible comment to make is any rape case and was especially bad because the victim has since committed suicide.
Rambold had gotten off pretty easy when Yellowstone County officials deferred Rambold’s sentence for three years and promised to dismiss the charges if the rapist completed a sexual offender program. He lied to officials about his progress, and the county attorney’s office wanted him sent away for years.
No, Baugh said, a month in jail would be enough.
No, it was not enough, and the judge’s lame excuse for the soft sentence was sickening.
Wednesday, the judge apologized, saying he didn’t explain himself very well.
You don’t think.
"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."
So now the judge is going to come up with another reason for the lean punishment he meted out to the offender who will still only get a 30-day sentence, but maybe more of a lecture.
Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito’s namby-pamby response wasn’t much more reassuring to those seeking justice.
He didn’t agree with the decision, but wouldn’t appeal.
Twila ought to appeal, and the people of Yellowstone County and all Montana ought to rise up in rebellion against this sentence.
When people rape youngsters, they should have to pay a serious price.
Baugh should step aside in the case and let another judge with a clearer head take over.