Montana

Dec 3, 2013 7:19 PM by Greg Tuttle & Simone DeAlba - Q2 News

Judge admits ethics breach, defends sentence

BILLINGS - Embattled Yellowstone County District Judge G. Todd Bauch admits to possibly violating an ethical code, but continues to defend his sentence of a former Billings teacher who pleaded guilty to raping a 14-year-old student.

In a letter to the state's Judicial Standards Commission dated Nov. 13 and provided to Q2 News on Tuesday by the judge, Baugh stated he imposed "the right kind of sentence," 15 years probation and 31 days in jail, in the case of Stacey Rambold.

That sentence sparked a fire-storm of controversy, as did Baugh's comments during the sentencing hearing in August, when he said the teenage victim "appeared older than her chronological age".

In response to a complaint filed against him with the Judicial Standards Commission, Baugh states: "When coupled with my remarks and the issues surrounding the mandatory minimum sentence, I have failed to promote public confidence in the judiciary and have not avoided the appearance of impropriety."

Speaking with Q2 by telephone this afternoon, Baugh reiterated that when considered in context, his sentence of Rambold was appropriate, but his comments were not.

The rape victim in the case, Cherice Moralez, committed suicide in February of 2010.

Rambold's attorney noted that the former Billings Senior High teacher had already suffered by losing his job, and getting divorced.

The defense requested a 15-year sentence, with all but 31 days suspended.

In the letter, Baugh said he went along with that suggestion, and stated his decision was "fair, imposed impartially, and without bias or prejudice."

The Judicial Standards Commission is considering whether Baugh violated any judicial ethics codes.

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