A teacher who repeatedly raped his 14-year-old student and was sentenced to a mere 30 days in jail may get a new hearing and an at least somewhat tougher sentence.
The Montana judge who drew national outrage and calls for his removal after handing down the slap-on-the-wrist penalty to Stacey Dean Rambold — who was 49 when he had sex several times with a 14-year-old female student — now says he screwed up and misunderstood the state’s sentencing requirements.
Yellowstone County District Court Judge G. Todd Baugh (pictured) will hold a hearing Friday to figure out if the light sentence that he imposed was actually illegal. Baugh now says that the state requires a mandatory minimum sentence of two years. He also said that even when he issued the 31-day sentence with credit for one day already served, prosecutors did not point out to him that he was giving less than the minimum sentence under Montana law.
However, there is some question whether, even if Baugh is right this time, Rambold’s sentence can legally be lengthened.
Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito, who called Baugh’s new order an “unsual occurrence,” says that judge’s decrees are treated as final under the law, so even an illegal sentencing decree may not be legally changeable.
Twito said he is researching the issue and “will be prepared to be in court on Friday.”
Baugh’s original sentence received national coverage, including on Opposing Views, and set off a nationwide wave of anger. It wasn’t only the sentence that caused the outrage, it was statements that Baugh made. He called the now-deceased 14-year-old victim “older than her chronological age” and “as much in control of the situation” as her adult rapist.
Baugh compounded the problem two days later when he attempted to explain his reasoning, saying, that Rambold’s crime “wasn't this forcible beat-up rape.” He later apologized, calling himself “really stupid.”
SOURCES: The Missoulian, KULR 8 News, Los Angeles Times