Montana Judge Orders New Hearing For Rapist He Sentenced to 30 Days

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 4 2013 10:19 AM

Judge Who Blamed Teen For Her Own Rape Now Thinks the Sentence He Gave Her Rapist Is Illegal

84611044
A Montana judge sparked outrage when he said a 14-year-old was partly to blame for her own rape

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Montana judge who sparked national outrage after sentencing a former teacher to 30 days in prison for having sex with a troubled 14-year-old student has ordered a new hearing to determine whether that remarkably light sentence was actually illegal.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Judge G. Todd Baugh found himself in the headlines last week after he suspended all but 30 days of what was originally 54-year-old Stacey Rambold’s 15-year sentence. As attention-grabbing as that sentence was, it was Baugh's apparent rationale for handing it out that fueled the outrage and anger from victims advocates and the local community. During sentencing, Baugh said that the teenage victim, Cherice Moralez, was "as much in control of the situation" as her teacher was, and that she was "older than her chronological age."

Those comments left many disgusted and prompted calls for Baugh's resignation. After initially defending himself, the judge eventually reversed course and published an apology in the Billings Gazette, in which he observed that his comments were "stupid" and had been "demeaning of all women," adding: "I am not sure just what I was attempting to say, but it did not come out correct." He stuck by the sentence, however, explaining then that Rambold's violations of the rules of his treatment program were not serious enough to warrant the reinstatement of significant prison time.

Advertisement

Now, Baugh appears to be having second thoughts, via the Gazette:

In an order filed Tuesday, Baugh set a hearing for Friday at 1:30 p.m. to determine whether the sentence he imposed last week on Stacey Dean Rambold should be revised. Baugh said in the order that the mandatory minimum sentence Rambold should have received appears to be two years, not the 30-day sentence that Baugh ordered on Aug. 26.
"In this court’s opinion, imposing a sentence which suspends more than the mandatory minimum would be an illegal sentence," Baugh said in the order.
Baugh said he imposed the 30-day prison sentence based on a memorandum submitted by the defense, and prosecutors "did not object or otherwise inform the Court on the issue of the applicable mandatory minimum."

Moralez killed herself in 2010 just a few days before her 17th birthday, while the case was still pending. Her mother told the court that the rape was a "major factor" in her suicide.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 16 2014 6:00 AM Can of Worms Prudie offers advice to a letter writer who wants to blackmail a famous ex with tapes of his fetish.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 7:36 AM The Inspiration Drought Why our science fiction needs new dreams.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 16 2014 7:30 AM A Galaxy of Tatooines
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.