A Montana judge will be censured and suspended for comments he made about a 14-year-old rape victim, the Montana Supreme Court ordered on Wednesday. Yellowstone County District Court Judge G. Todd Baugh became famous after he sentenced a teacher who raped one of his teenaged students to just 30 days in jail, because he believed the victim "seemed older than her chronological age" and was "as much in control of the situation" as her rapist. The victim later committed suicide.
According to the Billings Gazette, the six-page order calls for a public censure of Baugh on July 1, along with a 31-day suspension without pay from his duties. Baugh did not seek re-election this year for his judgeship, so it looks like the court is allowing his suspension to serve as an early dismissal from his position: the order suspends him as of December 1 of this year. In the order, the state's high court wrote that his actions "eroded public confidence in the judiciary and created an appearance of impropriety, therefore violating the Montana Code of Judicial Conduct," adding that "There is no place in the Montana judiciary for perpetuating the stereotype that women and girls are responsible for sexual crimes committed against them."
Even Baugh later admitted that the sentence — he intended to give former teacher Stacey Dean Rambold the minimum for his conviction — was probably "illegal," but seemed to not be quite to sure about whether he had the authority to intervene and increase his sentence outright or not (spoiler: he didn't). In April, the Montana Supreme Court overturned that sentence, meaning that Rambold will be re-sentenced to jail for a presumably longer period of time. He's already completed the 30-day jail sentence. Wednesday's censure is part of a separate appeal to the Montana high court from the Judicial Standards Commission.
Appended to the order is a long dissent from one of the state Supreme Court's justices, Justice Laurie McKinnon.
Read the full order below:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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