Ex-judge’s award re­news out­rage over rape case

Lo­cal bar as­so­ci­a­tion hon­ors Mon­tana jurist who gave a rapist a 30-day sen­tence.

Los Angeles Times - - THE NATION - By Maria L. La Ganga maria.la­ganga @la­times.com Twit­ter: @mar­i­ala­ganga

A for­mer Mon­tana judge who said a 14-year-old rape vic­tim was partly re­spon­si­ble for a teacher’s attack on her will re­ceive a life­time achieve­ment award from his lo­cal bar as­so­ci­a­tion.

For­mer Mon­tana Dis­trict Judge G. Todd Baugh was cho­sen for the award by the board of di­rec­tors of the Yel­low­stone Area Bar Assn.

“While we rec­og­nize that Judge Baugh made a very public mis­take … we feel his more than 30 years of ser­vice to our com­mu­nity and our pro­fes­sion is wor­thy of recog­ni­tion,” the as­so­ci­a­tion said Fri­day in a pre­pared state­ment.

The board added that it would “have no fur­ther com­ment at this time.”

Baugh sparked na­tion­wide out­rage in 2013 when he handed down a 30-day sen­tence to a for­mer high school teacher con­victed of rap­ing the teenager, who killed her­self just be­fore her 17th birth­day while the case was pending.

When he im­posed the sen­tence, Baugh com­mented in court that the girl was “older than her chrono­log­i­cal age” and “as much in con­trol of the sit­u­a­tion” as Stacey Dean Ram­bold, the teacher who was con­victed on one count of sex­ual in­ter­course with­out con­sent.

As news of the award spread this week, anger against the judge and the ju­di­cial sys­tem was reignited — along with as­ton­ish­ment.

“It is break­ing open all the old wounds,” said Mar­ian Bradley, past pres­i­dent of Mon­tana’s Na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Women chap­ter. “Peo­ple are hurt — out­raged.

“My huge con­cern is that vic­tims of sex­ual as­sault do not re­port in the num­bers we know sex­ual as­sault hap­pens,” said Bradley, who is cur­rently NOW’s north­west re­gional direc­tor. “If you have a judge who is this bad, and if you have a bar as­so­ci­a­tion who does this, where does this leave a vic­tim?”

Baugh sen­tenced Ram­bold, who was 54 at the time, to 15 years in pri­son, but suspended all but 31 days and gave Ram­bold credit for one day served. The penalty vi­o­lated the state’s manda­tory min­i­mum sen­tence of two years.

Pros­e­cu­tors had asked for 20 years in pri­son, with 10 years suspended.

In com­ments to re­porters later, Baugh down­played the crime, de­scrib­ing it as “hor­ri­ble enough as it is given her age, but it wasn’t this forcible beat-up rape.”

Un­der Mon­tana state law, mi­nors un­der the age of 16 can­not con­sent to sex.

Af­ter an up­roar over the sen­tence and Baugh’s com­ments, the Mon­tana Supreme Court or­dered an­other judge to re­sen­tence Ram­bold. He re­ceived a 10-year pri­son term.

The state Supreme Court also rep­ri­manded Baugh in 2014 for his con­duct, say­ing in court fil­ings that he had “eroded public con­fi­dence in the ju­di­ciary and cre­ated an ap­pear­ance of im­pro­pri­ety.” He was cen­sured and suspended for 31 days.

The judge, 73, re­tired in De­cem­ber af­ter nearly 30 years on the bench.

Larry Mayer Billings (Mont.) Gazette

G. TODD BAUGH, a for­mer Mon­tana dis­trict judge, will re­ceive a life­time achieve­ment award.

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