Montana

Sep 25, 2013 12:18 AM by Melissa Anderson - MTN News

Activists deliver petitions demanding that Montana judge resign over rape sentencing

HELENA - The National Organization of Women, better known as NOW, filed a complaint on Tuesday against Judge Todd Baugh of Billings for his comments and perceived leniency during the sentencing of Stacey Rambold.

In August, Baugh presided over the sentencing of Rambold, a former Billings High School teacher; Rambold admitted in October 2007 to raping 14-year old Cherice Moralez, who later committed suicide.

Baugh sentenced Rambold to 15 years, and suspended all but 31 days of the sentence.

During the sentencing, Baugh said Moralez was "older than her chronological age" and that she had some control of situation with the teacher.

Baugh issued an apology two days later: "I made some really stupid remarks. It didn't come out right and I owe the whole county, but maybe even the whole country, especially women, an apology."

The incident triggered outrage and protests, with hundreds of people demonstrating in Billings, and the story made national headlines.

On Tuesday, members of NOW along with a group known as Ultraviolet delivered 144,000 signatures in boxes along with the complaint to Montana's Judicial Standards Commission in Helena.

Marian Bradley, president of the Montana chapter of NOW, said, "The loss of her life is tragic, the sentence is awful. I'm more upset about how he went into victim blaming and blamed this young girl and said her rape was not like we see in the movies. Excuse me! What we see in the movies is Hollywood, this is real life."

"For him to go into court and not know what the rules are for sentencing a convicted rapist is incompetent," said petitioner Jennifer Straw of Helena.

The Montana NOW organization plans to file another brief in support of the Montana Attorney General's office appealing Rambold's sentence which they claim was illegal.

They are asking for a new sentence in Rambold's case.

Rambold will be done serving his 30-day sentence on Thursday.

Below is an excerpt of the complaint; click here to read the entire document (PDF).

This complaint is being filed by the Montana and Pennsylvania chapters of the National Organization for Women. Both organizations are non-profit organizations dedicated to ensuring that violence against women and children is handled in an appropriate manner by the courts.

Based on Judge Baugh's failure to follow the ethical standards and minimum sentencing guidelines, we urge the Montana Judicial Standards Commission and the Montana Supreme Court to Remove Judge Baugh from the bench for his misconduct related to his handling of and speech about the rape case involving the sentencing of Stacey Rambold; and Implement a mandatory judicial education program for the judiciary on the fair adjudication of sexual assault cases to help the Montana justice system develop techniques to minimize victim re-traumatization while safeguarding the rights of the defendant

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