BRAD MERRIMAN – JOURNALIST – TACDNEWS -Outrage has filled the protests outside the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings Montana. The protests are calling for Judge Todd Baugh, 71, to step down or be removed from his bench following a shocking end to a very public and controversial case that has gripped this town since 2008.
This troubling series of events began in 2008 when the then 14 year old girl, reported to a church official that she had been sexually assaulted by her teacher, 54 year old Stacey Dean Rambold. Rambold was eventually arrested an charged with forcible rape on a minor. In Montana the consensual age for a minor is 16 years old. At the age of 16 in 2010, the young girl committed suicide.
Rambold confessed to once count of forcible rape on a minor, but then made a deal for the case to be dismissed if Rambold attended a sexual offender treatment program. Rambold did attend the class, however he was kicked out early for having one on one visits with minor children at the facility, unsupervised. As a result in his expulsion from the program, lawyers in December refiled charges against Rambold.
Earlier this week, Judge Baugh handed down his verdict, 15 years in prison, with all but 31 days suspended and one day off for time served. Baugh told the courtroom that his research into the case had surmised that this girl was a ‘troubled teen’, and that she appeared to be “older than her chronological age” and “as much in control of the situation” as her teacher was. After a public outrage over his comments, Judge Baugh told the Billings Gazette Weds that “I think that people have in mind that this was some violent, forcible, horrible rape.… It was horrible enough as it is just given her age, but it wasn’t this forcible beat-up rape.” Baugh also admitted that his remarks about the teen were demeaning to all women.
Montana Governor Steve Bullock stated he felt the judges comments were ‘disappointing’ and left him ‘angry’. However he reminded us that it is not he who handles complaints about judges, it is the Judicial Standards Commission.
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