On Monday, Montana Judge G. Todd Baugh sentenced 54-year-old high school teacher Stacey Rambold to only 30 days in prison for the repeated rape of now-deceased Cherice Morales. Morales was 14 years old at the time of the rapes.
When explaining his logic for giving Rambold such a short sentence, Baugh said Morales was “as much in control of the situation” as Rambold and said the girl was “older than her chronological age.”
Baugh’s comments outraged many. He has been accused of sympathizing with a rapist and shifting much of the fault for the rape to the victim.
Baugh released a statement today in which he attempted to clarify his remarks. He said his remarks were “really stupid” and that he “deserves to be chastised.”
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“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. I will add an addendum to the court file to hopefully better explain the sentence."
Baugh also defended his sentencing of Rambold. He says his reason for the lenient sentence was that prosecutors originally agreed to drop the rape charges against Rambold if he completed a sexual offender evaluation program. Rambold was kicked out of the program after he was found to be having a sexual relationship with a woman. After being kicked out of the first program, Rambold enrolled in a second one, which declared him to be at low-risk to repeat sexual offenses. Baugh argued that a harsh sentencing was not called for since prosecutors had already agreed to drop the charges against him if he completed the sexual offender program.
“My thought was, given the relatively minor violations in the sex offender treatment program, it didn't seem appropriate to put him in jail, put him in prison" for a longer time," Baugh said."It didn't seem to me that the violations were such that the state should be able to back out of their agreement."
Many in the Billings, Mont., community are still angry about Baugh’s comments. A protest has been planned for Thursday outside the Yellowstone County Courthouse. Protestors will be calling for Baugh’s resignation. An online petition calling for his resignation has already accrued 8,500 signatures.
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“I'm glad he apologized, but he should have known better as a judge," said protest organizer Sheena Rice. "The fact that he said it makes me think he still believes it."