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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By Maya Srikrishnan, Los Angeles Times

The Montana Supreme Court publicly reprimanded a Billings judge for his comments that a 14-year-old rape victim was “older than her chronological age” and “as much in control of the situation” as her rapist when he sentenced the offender to 31 days in prison.

District Judge G. Todd Baugh appeared Tuesday afternoon for censure — a rare public declaration by the state’s Supreme Court that he is guilty of misconduct.

Montana Chief Justice Mike McGrath told Baugh that through his “inappropriate comments” he has “eroded public confidence in the judiciary and created an appearance of impropriety,” according to court filings.

The Supreme Court also suspended Baugh for 31 days, effective in December.

Baugh sent Stacey Dean Rambold to prison for just 31 days last year after he pleaded guilty to sexual intercourse without consent.

Rambold was a 47-year-old teacher at Billings Senior High School at the time of the 2007 rape. He had pleaded guilty to one count of sexual intercourse without consent and had been kicked out of a sexual offender treatment program for breaking rules.

The victim, one of his students, committed suicide before the case went to trial.

Baugh retroactively tried to change the sentence to toughen the terms. But the state prosecutors filed a complaint against Baugh and appealed the sentence as illegal because Montana requires a mandatory minimum of two years in prison for such a conviction, prosecutor Malin Steams Johnsons. In addition, according to state law, children younger than 16 cannot consent to sexual intercourse, Johnson had said.

The Montana Supreme Court blocked Baugh’s attempt to change the sentence and ordered a new sentencing by a different judge. Rambold, who completed the Baugh-ordered incarceration last fall, is scheduled to face that judge Sept. 26.

Photo: jimmywayne via Flickr

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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