Montana Judge Censured for Suggesting Teenage Rape Victim Partly to Blame for Attack


A Montana judge who suggested that a 14-year-old rape victim was at least partially to blame for her attack and sentenced the teacher who admitted attacking her to only 30 days in jail received a public reprimand from the Montana Supreme Court Tuesday.

The Associated Press reports that Montana Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike McGrath delivered the censure to District Judge G. Todd Baugh of Billings, reading from a prepared censure statement. (A censure is a rarely used public declaration by the state’s highest court that a judge is guilty of misconduct.) “We have determined that, through your inappropriate comments, you have eroded public confidence in the judiciary and created an appearance of impropriety in violation of the Montana Code of Judicial Conduct,” McGrath said.

Baugh drew international condemnation after his comments and sentencing in the case of Stacey Dean Rambold. Rambold, a former Billings Senior High School teacher, admitted to raping his former student, who later committed suicide. Baugh originally sentenced Rambold to 15 years in prison, with all but 31 days suspended. With credit for one day previously served, that meant that Rambold was ordered to serve only 30 days in jail, a sentence that dramatically deviated from sentencing guidelines.

At the time he delivered Rambold’s sentence, Judge Baugh explained the unusual order by suggesting that because the victim “looked older than her chronological age,” she was complicit in the crime committed against her, saying at the hearing that the girl was “as much in control of the situation” as Rambold.

Under Montana state law, children under 16 cannot consent to sex.

After protests and emergency filings by prosecutors in response to the sentencing deviation, Baugh apologized for his remarks and tried to amend his sentence. But the Montana Supreme Court intervened, and in April ordered a new sentencing hearing in the case, assigning the matter to a different judge. Rambold is now scheduled to be re-sentenced by District Judge Randal Spaulding on September 26.

In addition to the censure, the Montana Supreme Court also suspended Baugh for 31 days, effective in December. Baugh has said he plans to retire at the end of his term in December.

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  • lady_black

    Good to hear of this “man’s” pending retirement. He should be allowed nowhere near a courtroom. It mattered what the rape victim “looked like?” Incredible.

    • L-dan

      Seriously. She was the rapist’s student, he knew damn well how old she actually was. Which doesn’t even get into the power issues of sleeping with students, even if they’re old enough to consent.

      • chris9465

        almost sounded like the judge was making an excuse for himself…..

    • Everybodhi

      Yes. He will live his days out on his fat pension paid for by the people of Montana.

  • fiona64

    Glad to hear that this man was censured in the public square. Far too often in cases like this, those close to retirement are allowed to quietly leave the stage without comment, lest their “reputations” be damaged. This jerk deserves every bit of damage his reputation receives due to his own misogyny and ignorance.

  • vulgarism

    Good. What a loser.

  • StealthGaytheist

    WTF? She had control of the situation because she *looked* older? Gah!

  • Activist_Feminist

    On Tuesday, July 22, Marian Bradley, representing Montana NOW and I,
    representing Pennsylvania NOW were in the courtroom of the Montana Supreme
    Court when G. Todd Baugh was publicly censured.

    We had prepared a statement for the hearing which we had expected to speak into
    the public record. Unfortunately Montana NOW and Pennsylvania NOW were not
    allowed to speak about our concerns before the Court. We believe that the
    Court did not want to hear any more of Baugh’s excuses for his behavior. Since
    he wasn’t allowed to comment, neither were we.

    Since we were unable to speak at the hearing, we sent our statement directly to
    Baugh and posted it on my blog. You can read our official statement of
    condemnation at http://civilrightsadvocacy.net/2014/07/22/public-censure-statement-baugh/

    Joanne Tosti-Vasey

    President Emerita, Pennsylvania NOW and member of PA NOW Executive Committee

    • JamieHaman

      Well Done. Thank you for filing the complaint, and for following up on it as well.

      Thank you for writing such a powerful statement, to Baugh, and the citizens of Montana.

  • lepidopteryx

    No matter what age she appeared to be, the teacher KNEW she was a high school student, and therefore off-limits, not only based on her age, but based on professional standards. Teachers shouldn’t fuck their students. Period.

  • JamieHaman

    Rape, the only crime where the victim is blamed, the only crime where the victim pays for the collection of evidence, via the rape kit, and the only crime I know of where the victim is likely to receive death threats, due to making an accusation.

    He should be more than censured. His retirement comes far too late.
    How many other rapists has he sentenced so outside the acceptable legal parameters? How many cases did a rapist go free, because the victim was to blame.

    Now we know what has passed for Justice in Montana.

    • http://civilrightsadvocacy.net/ Joanne Tosti-Vasey

      In terms of who pays for the rape kit, the information you have is slightly out of date. Since 2009, states are required by federal law to pay for “Jane Doe” rape kits to continue receiving funding under the federal Violence Against Women
      Act. The loss of that funding will mean less money for things like women’s shelters and law enforcement training.

      “Jane Doe” rape kits are the collection of evidence of rape immediately after the rape has occurred but don’t require the woman to immediately report the rape to the police; the evidence is then sealed and only opened once the woman decides whether or not she is going to file charges.

      Emergency rooms usually use a rape kit to collect evidence for use by police and prosecutors. According to Scott Berkowitz, president of the national Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), “The idea is to collect the evidence now, while it’s still there.”

      Here in PA, the law is a bit clearer imho. The regs say that a rape victim does not pay for the data collection whether or not she files charges at the time of the rape

      • JamieHaman

        Thank you for the news, last time I checked (sometime ago) here in Texas, a woman’s insurance company got billed, or she had to pay for it herself.

  • Tara Sundberg

    Ugh, the world sometimes.

  • UsedtoBE

    He should be kicked off the bench and put in jail. No wonder young men think it’s ok to rape when misogynist pig like this set the example for what is ok.