(BILLINGS, Mont.) — A Montana judge is standing by controversial comments made when he sentenced a former teacher to only 30 days in jail for raping a 14-year-girl who later committed suicide.
District Judge G. Todd Baugh has been the subject of widespread backlash after he said in a Billings, Mont., court that the victim was “older than her chronological age” and “as much control of the situation” as the teacher, according to the Billings Gazette.
Stacey Rambold, 54, a former teacher at Billings Senior High School, was sentenced Monday to 15 years in prison with all but 31 days suspended and received credit for one day served.
“We respect the judge, but we vehemently disagree with his sentencing decision,” Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito told ABC News Wednesday.
“I sent one of my best deputies, who’s my chief deputy, down there to fight this out and unfortunately the judge did not agree with our recommendation, which included substantial prison time,” Twito said.
He said that there are “limited avenues to explore” in terms of appealing the sentence.
The sentence has drawn anger from the public, especially online. A Thursday protest against the judge has been organized and a MoveOn.org petition calling for the judge’s resignation has nearly 10,000 signatures Wednesday.
Baugh could not be reached for comment, but he stood by his courtroom statements in comments made to the Billings Gazette.
“Obviously, a 14-year-old can’t consent. I think that people have in mind that this was some violent, forcible, horrible rape,” Baugh told the newspaper. “It was horrible enough as it is just given her age, but it wasn’t this forcible beat-up rape.”
Rambold was charged in October 2008 with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent after he was accused of having a sexual relationship with Cherice Moralez, who was 14 at the time, according to court documents.
She committed suicide in February 2010 while the case was pending, which complicated the case.
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