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August 30, 2013

"Protesters Demand Montana Judge Resign Over Rape Sentencing"

The title of this post is the headline of this New York Times report on the continuing controversy over what seems to be a disturbingly lenient state sentence for a child rape conviction.   Here are some of the latest developments in a story that seems to have become a cause for CNN and other media outlets:

Angry that a Montana judge sentenced a former teacher who had admitted to raping a 14-year-old student to only a month in jail, several hundred people gathered outside the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings on Thursday, demanding that the judge resign. The victim committed suicide three years after the rape, just before her 17th birthday.

The decision by Judge G. Todd Baugh of State District Court on Monday to suspend the teacher’s 15-year prison term, combined with remarks he made about the rape victim during the proceeding, has sparked outrage in Montana and around the country, with online petitions gathering more than 30,000 signatures in a few days. During the sentencing, Judge Baugh said the victim “seemed older than her chronological age” and was “as much in control of the situation” as the teacher.

The death of the victim, Cherice Morales, who was a student of Stacey Dean Rambold, contributed to delays in the prosecution of the case, which was originally filed in 2008.

Judge Baugh later apologized for his remarks, telling The Billings Gazette: “I don’t know what I was thinking or trying to say. It was just stupid and wrong.” He defended the one-month sentence, however, and in doing so made a remark that further angered many protesters. “Obviously, a 14-year-old can’t consent,” he said, but then added: “I think that people have in mind that this was some violent, forcible, horrible rape. It was horrible enough as it is just given her age, but it wasn’t this forcible beat-up rape.”

Marian Bradley, who heads the Montana chapter of the National Organization for Women and helped organize the rally on Thursday, said that the judge needed to step aside and that state lawmakers needed to consider mandatory sentencing for convicted rapists. “It’s highly unusual to get several hundred people to show up for a protest in Billings,” said Ms. Bradley, a longtime rape crisis volunteer. “Everyone here is outraged.”...

Mr. Rambold, 54, a former technology teacher at Billings Senior High School, pleaded guilty in April to a felony count of sexual intercourse without consent. The charges were first brought in 2008, and his prosecution was deferred in 2010 after Ms. Morales’s suicide raised concerns among prosecutors that a conviction would be difficult to obtain without the victim’s testimony.

Under a three-year agreement, Mr. Rambold attended an outpatient program for sex offenders, and if he had completed it, the charges would have been dismissed. But after he violated the terms of the program last fall, prosecutors brought charges against him again earlier this year and he pleaded guilty to one count, which brought him back to court for sentencing on Monday.

Though I am troubled when folks start calling for a judge's head based on limited information about a seemingly misguided sentencing decision, it is understandable why the judge's sentencing decision here has prompted outrage given the the facts that are publically known about this case. Interestingly, as now reported in this new Billings Gazette article, "Judge G. Todd Baugh, who has drawn international criticism for sending a convicted rapist to prison for only 30 days, issued a sentencing addendum Thursday afternoon, offering a formal explanation of his decision in the case." That three-page addendum may not end the protests, in part because Judge Baugh says in this Addendum that some key facts influencing the sentencing decision that cannot be publically disclosed.

Long-time readers will not be surprised to hear me suggest that Montana lawmakers not respond to one ugly case by passing new mandatory sentencing statutes.  In lots of other settings, we can and do reasonably expect and hope that appellate review will provide a means to correct very wrong trial court rulings.  Intriguingly, this new CNN article reports that the local prosecutor here is considering an appeal and seems to believe that there already was a statutory provision that would have required at least a two-year prison term for the defendant here.  If the sentencing decision causing outrage and protests cannot be reviewed under existing Montana law, I hope that problem becomes the focal point of any legislative reform rather than the creation of new mandatory minimum sentencing statutes.

August 30, 2013 at 10:46 AM | Permalink

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Comments

I would definitely want to see that addendum but I really cannot think of a reason for a 30 day sentence for a child's rape case.

Posted by: Zane Becker | Aug 30, 2013 1:32:37 PM

Me too, I would like to know what's in this addendum and "justified" an effective 30-days sentence for raping a 14-years-old pupil who commited suicide after.

The comments about her “seem[ing] older than her chronological age” and the fact the rapist failed a diversion program weigh now heavily against this judge and his decision.

Posted by: visitor | Aug 30, 2013 1:44:26 PM

A 30-day jail sentence for a 49 year-old who rapes a 14 year-old is an outrage. Why should anyone hesitate to call it that?

The legislative branch is well within its rights, and well advised as well, to demand a rock bottom minimum for child rape. I don't know what that minimum would be, but I and everyone else on this blog knows it's more than 30 days.

When an adult of sound mind rapes a child, what sensible reason could there be that the legislature shouldn't demand, say, at least three years? In fact, of course, ordinarily the sentence should be a good deal longer. But even in the most sympathetic case (and just how "sympathetic" can this crime be?), the gravity of the offense calls for at least that.

Mitigation is fine where it exists, but allowing this unhinged degree of mitigation is a scandal. It is precisely to prevent such scandals that judges should not be trusted with 100% discretion, with no checks and balances from the legislature. Why should we have to hold our breath and hope-against-hope that members of the same country club (i.e., other judges, the ones on the appellate court) will correct it?

The people, through legislatively-adopted mandatory minimums, can and should prevent it from the getgo.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 30, 2013 3:17:17 PM

How in the world does a crime of rape,no matter what the victim's age, allow for the rapist to go free, attend an out-patient SO program and then get diversion if he completes it, while SO's whose only offense was "looking" at porn on a computer, get 5-10 in prison and a life-time on the registry?
Something's just not right.

Posted by: kat | Aug 30, 2013 5:27:46 PM

The judge got in trouble in part for suggesting the girl here was older than her chronological age and "as much in control of the situation" as the teacher.

http://www.xojane.com/issues/stacey-rambold-cherice-morales

She was not "in control" at 14. Nor would a boy. If he was 30, she wouldn't have been "in control." I don't think she would be "in control" at 17.

When an adult teacher has sex with a student, when would the student be "in control"? I take from past discussions here it would be "consensual" sex when the student is an adult though some sixteen year old boy having sex with a female teacher might be treated as different by some people.

As to the addendum, one summary:

Foremost among that information the addendum states are a July 2013 pre-sentencing report on Rambold by the Montana Department of Corrections combined with a 32-page psychological evaluation of the man from August 2009; a detective’s interview with Moralez on April 29, 2008; and another interview with her on July 29, 2009, by Rambold’s attorney.

“Even without the deferred prosecution, had the Defendant pled guilty or been convicted by a jury three years ago, he would have had a basis from which to argue for a minimum sentence,” Baugh wrote.

For those reasons, “the Court upped Mr. Rambold’s debt to society from the almost expired 3 years deferred Prosecution Agreement to the 15 years suspended sentence imposed,” Baugh said in the addendum.

Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/baugh-issues-formal-explanation-of-sentencing-decision-in-rape-case/article_1afea1e4-5044-51d4-ad71-634ecbc81ccc.html#ixzz2dUiEMx00

I'm open for Prof. Berman's response, but a mandatory sentence for a small number of crimes, including rape of 14 year olds, especially of the "three year" variety cited in a comment sounds reasonable. The overall concern of not letting one ruling lead to overboard reactions, including kicking the judge off the bench, is a good one generally speaking.

Posted by: Joe | Aug 30, 2013 6:44:04 PM

Joe --

"I'm open for Prof. Berman's response, but a mandatory sentence for a small number of crimes, including rape of 14 year olds, especially of the 'three year' variety cited in a comment sounds reasonable."

Knock me over with a feather.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 30, 2013 7:03:13 PM

Except in the upside down, Twilight Zone world of the vile feminist lawyer on a rampage against the productive male, 14 is human adult in every way anyone can name. Nature has made that age the true age of adulthood.

I am still hot for teacher, although a wise ass kid suggested they would be 90 years old today. Only a pussified victim of the vile feminist lawyer internal enemy would agree to accept this unreality. Feminism is to 2013 what the KKK is to 1913. There should be zero tolerance for any feminist in any institution or any government office. They must all be purged. As they show no quarter to our nation, so no quarter should shown to them. Purge them. Arrest them. Execute these internal traitors, as was done after the KKK Act of 1868, and black people totally thrived until the Army was removed as part of a compromise in 1876. Except today, all of us are the blacks of 1876, suffering under the oppression of the internal traitors.

Here for you vile feminists and its pussified male running dogs.

Even extremist feminist are being victimized by the vile feminist lawyer traitor.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Gallop

Go to reference 4. at the end.

or to this article.

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/100827.article

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 30, 2013 10:32:38 PM

I find the hullabaloo frustrating. There was a child rape case in my state, in my own community, a number of years ago where the man spent no time in jail. He raped two sisters over the course of years, between the ages of 9-13. True, he wasn't a teacher. The judge gave him five years of probation and banished him from the community. IIRC I brought this up before on this blog in the context of banishing as a form of sentencing.

Here's what I think is true. The state I live in is a mostly Democratic state and the community I live in is overwhelmingly (80%) Democratic. To me, what is going on right now is nothing but hypercritical "Red State" bashing. What has happened here has happened before in other states and no one raised a word. (Well me, but I hardly count.)

Oh, and I would like to point out that my state also has a three year mandatory minimum. But that mandatory minimum can be a suspend sentence. There is no requirement that it be three actual years in the pokey.

Posted by: Daniel | Aug 31, 2013 1:16:31 AM

By the way, I also want to say I agree with poster "kat"'s comment above. That's what angers me. The child porn producer goes free but the child porn consumer get life. Well, anything to feed the unadulterated greed of the correctional officers union. Sickening.

Posted by: Daniel | Aug 31, 2013 1:20:07 AM

Joe: "She was not "in control" at 14. Nor would a boy. If he was 30, she wouldn't have been "in control." I don't think she would be "in control" at 17."

Have you spoken to a kid lately. This is the most entitled, demanding, spoiled generation in history. The idea that any could be made to do something they do not want to, for example, a little homework, for a change of pace from the full time Roman Orgy lifestyle is not realistic.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 31, 2013 2:22:39 AM

Fiction heaped upon fiction is required to pursue this witch hunt. How do you know the attentions of this teacher delayed the suicide of this pseudo-victims by years? If an act is beneficial, should it be criminalized?

Had the teacher been a Muslim, it would be a different story, wouldn't it? When it comes to those who want to destroy our nation and our way of life, those who would behead the feminists ahead of the Jews, there would be no problem with taking a child bride, not 14, but 8 years old, with the vile feminist lawyer. The feminist lawyer would label any dissenter as Islamophobic, and prosecute any criticism of that religion. Why? To protect the agents of our nation's destruction because the Muslim terrorist is furthering the feminist treason agenda. (A phobia is a fear of something that is not dangerous, such as the dark or insects. The fear of Islam and of homosexuals is not a phobia. One is seeking our subjugation, the other assassinated 40 million people via the lawyer protected, encouraged, and immunized sexual misconduct. When homosexuals gain political power, tyranny soon follows, as in the all gay Nazi administration of Germany, including Adolf Hitler. If fear of these groups is not warranted, then nothing does.)

Never apologize to a feminist. The judge should tell the feminists to get lost. The lawyer totally controls the three branches of government and has immunized herself from any accountability.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 31, 2013 6:52:27 AM

Joe: Find a kid. Tell them to clean their room. Report back with the result. See if you can get them to pick up their stuff without their consent. Report the results back here.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 31, 2013 9:34:41 AM

Fourteen year old girls have underage sex all the time. Ask your gynecologist at the free hospital. Give the judge a break. Jeso.

Posted by: Liberty1st1st | Aug 31, 2013 5:30:00 PM

"Though I am troubled when folks start calling for a judge's head based on limited information about a seemingly misguided sentencing decision, it is understandable why the judge's sentencing decision here has prompted outrage given the the facts that are publically known about this case."

Because, of course, we can't have people calling for judges' heads.

Posted by: federalist | Aug 31, 2013 7:09:59 PM

"Fourteen year old girls have underage sex all the time."

With 49 year old teachers?

Daniel, there very well might be others who got probation, but there are various aspects of the case (e.g., her committing suicide, the "older than her years" comment that even the judge said was just plain stupid and yes, teachers have a special responsibility and power -- if one person is mistreated, a range of others are also at risk) that made this one in particular get attention.

Also, if the aim is to "feed the unadulterated greed of the correctional officers union," why are producers not jailed too? If they cannot be reached, it isn't a matter of "unadulterated greed." It also is probably much more a matter of society being concerned with children being harmed, even if the means ("get life" here to remind isn't actually being locked up for life -- it is being on a sex registry) used is deemed wrong. Those who download it are the ones easily accessible, producers often overseas or otherwise hard to get.

As to sex registries, is kat saying child rapists aren't putting on the registry? That would be off. Also, people can watch all types of "porn" on the computer. OTOH, downloading child porn is against the law because child sex is illegal and viewing it promotes it. And, just as we can point to cases where rape might get probation, there are cases where this might.

Posted by: Joe | Sep 1, 2013 12:55:17 AM

Joe-
I don't know if a rapist is put on a registry if he gets diversion, to me, diversion means that their slate is wiped clean. If that's the case, that's bad.
As far a those who download child porn, just look at the US Justice System archives Public Form, see how many families have written letters complaining that their loved one went to a sharefile, didn't quite know how it worked, and before you know it, the adult porn they thought they were downloading also loaded child porn to their computer. One wrong click of a mouse, and you can end up doing 5-10. Won't be long before kids end up accidently downloading child porn, then what do we do, throw them in prison? Prison is for the rapists, the murders, those who violently perpetrate a crime against someone, those who produce and distribute porn, not knuckleheads who don't understand how sharefiles work.

Posted by: kat | Sep 1, 2013 10:38:09 AM

The Dahlia Lithwick view:

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/08/montana_massachusetts_rape_cases_when_judges_can_t_get_even_the_easy_cases.single.html

A legal analysis on PrawfBlawg of another Mass case:

http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2013/08/a-fed-courtscivil-rights-puzzle.html#more

Disclosure: Both Lithwick and Dan Markel, the owner of Prawfblawg, have banned the Supremacy, unfriended it, or refused any contact. So commentary has be minimum.

The bias of these two commentary is evident, so any facts that contradict the ipse dixits will make no difference. These are useful as expressions of the orthodoxy now existing in legal academia.

I would gladly discuss the Eleventh Amendment jurisprudence problem, and have a lot to say about it, but it is a little remote from the subject of this post.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 1, 2013 11:14:51 AM

Joe: Not picking on you. I respect your views, and you are obviously not a lawyer, nor an internal enemy to our nation. But, as to your, "...downloading child porn is against the law because child sex is illegal and viewing it promotes it."

1) Is adult porn legal? Do people have sex on camera? Do any get payment? Is prostitution illegal? Does adult porn promote prostitution? It likely lessens it, and decreases the number of rape reports when allowed.

2) Cross national, natural experiment studies show the legalization of child porn results in a marked drop in the number of reports of sex abuse of real children.

3) The prohibition of it? Child porn sites now up to 4 million. The reporting of child sexual abuse is increasing steadily. Why? The prohibition itself raises the profit margin of criminal syndicates, a federal price support, like that of milk. The heavy downloading of child porn by the government and police is another unauthorized subsidy to the producers abroad. I would be interested in knowing if these criminal syndicates are using legitimate US businesses they bought to funnel donations to politicians supporting prohibition.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 1, 2013 11:29:10 AM

If you are a child welfare official, try criticizing a 14 year old girl for having sex, and bearing a child, on purpose, because she always wanted one. You will be crushed, fired, and destroyed for your racism and sexism. Why? Because bastardy generates a lot of government make jobs. These girls will carry the spawn of garbage bag delinquents. These are boys, expelled from home, who put their possessions in a garbage bag, move from girl friend's home to another, inseminating as they go, and spreading the delinquent DNA far and wide.

No problem with that with the vile feminist lawyer, not even if this garbage bag kid has a tendency to get rough with the girl, and the single mother of the girl has to expel him, to move on to the next family. Not a word when the spawn is mentally deficient, devoid of morality, and subject to the worst social pathologies from day 1 to Day of Being Murdered. Again, why? Because this spawn generates government jobs, so is sacrosanct. All PC is case, imposed by judges, and in the service of making money, so in bad faith unless clearly disclosed.

All government dependent parasites commenting here must disclose their relationship to rent seeking, so that the credibility of their comments can be discounted properly.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Sep 1, 2013 2:30:23 PM

Joe.

The fact that child producers are hard to catch is not a justification for anything other than spending more money to target them. Seriously, does any thing that a child's life is worse less than a bunch of drugs? Yet the USA has had no difficulty targeting drug lords overseas, even arresting them and bringing them back to the USA for trial. It has never done that with a child porn producer, ever.

The fundamental fact is, as the war on drugs shows, that the entire "market curtailment" strategy is an abysmal failure. It succeeds at doing nothing but filling up the country's jails without ever saving or sparing one child. It doesn't work because there so long as there is a supply there is a demand. Stopping child abuse is difficult for many reasons but one good reason to go after the producers is because it hits the problem at its roots. Endlessly pruning the ever flowering tree may be good business for the landscapers but its not a good business for those who are poisoned by its fruit.

Posted by: Daniel | Sep 1, 2013 11:35:47 PM

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