Whatever other rulings the 66-year-old Baugh has made during his time on the bench, that one makes him unfit to serve a single day longer.
The outrage began when the girl's mother, Auliea Hanlon, upon hearing the judge's ruling, stormed out of the courtroom repeatedly screaming "You people suck!" She had testified that the sexual relationship between her 14-year-old daughter and high school teacher Stacey Dean Rambold, then 49, had been a major factor in the girl's suicide a few weeks before her 17th birthday. Talk of the case on the internet and coverage in various traditional media have multiplied Hanlon's outrage far and wide.
Organizers plan a rally and protest for Thursday in a park next to the Yellowstone County Courthouse against District Judge G. Todd Baugh. A petition seeking his removal from the bench has been post online.
The case began in 2008 when Stacey Rambold, now 54, a high school teacher who four years earlier had been warned not to touch or be alone with female students, was discovered to be having a relationship with Cherice Morales, a 14-year-old student. He was arrested and initially pleaded guilty to a single felony charge. He was placed on paid leave from his teaching job, soon resigned and was forced to give up his teaching credential. In October 2008, he was charged with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent. The age of consent in Montana is 16. But before the case came to trial, Cherice killed herself, complicating things for the prosecution.
A settlement was reached. Rambold was granted deferred prosecution and ordered to complete a sexual offender treatment program after which the charges would be dropped. He finished the first two of the program's three phases. But then he stopped coming to sessions. It was learned that he was having unsupervised visits with minors and had begun a sexual relationship with an adult without telling the program's supervisors. "The violations were serious enough when taken together to kick Rambold out of the program, although it was learned that the minors Rambold was visiting were family members." Of course, sexual offenders never ever prey on family members.
More on this story below the fold.
Having failed to complete his part of the settlement arrangement, Rambold was brought back to court and Baugh handed down his outrageous ruling.
“Something is not right with our system when a judge can make that kind of decision,” said Marian Bradley of the Montana National Organization for Women. “Unless we show our outrage, none of our children are safe and no one will think of us. I think the judge needs to be reviewed and he needs to be sanctioned.”If removing the judge seems harsh, it should noted that on Tuesday he not only stood by but doubled down on the remarks he made in his ruling:
“Obviously, a 14-year-old can’t consent. I think that people have in mind that this was some violent, forcible, horrible rape,” Baugh said. “It was horrible enough as it is, just given her age, but it wasn’t this forcible beat-up rape.” [...]Judge Baugh, sir, with all due respect, of which I have none, that is what happened. Stacy Rambold, child rapist, will be out of jail in 29 days.
“I think what people are seeing is a sentence for rape of 30 days. Obviously on the face of it, if you look at it that way, it’s crazy,” Baugh said. “No wonder people are upset. I’d be upset, too if that happened.”
aztecraingod has a discussion of the ruling here.