54 Year Old Billings Teacher Gets 30 Days for Raping 14 Year Old Student

by lizard

There aren’t strong enough words to describe the confounding decision by district Judge G. Todd Baugh to suspend all but 30 days of a 15 year sentence for the statutory rape of 14 year old Cherice Morales by her 54 year old teacher, Stacey Rambold.

Cherice Morales isn’t around to witness this travesty of justice because she committed suicide just before turning 17.

Again, there just aren’t words. And unfortunately Montana will be making national headlines again because holding rapists accountable is apparently not something any city in this state is very good at.

Absolutely disgraceful.

If you haven’t heard the judge’s inexcusable justification, read this:

Under state law, children younger than 16 cannot consent to sexual intercourse, which makes Rambold’s crime felony rape.

However, issuing the sentence Baugh said Morales not only had equal control of the rape, but was also a troubled youth “older than her chronological age.” The remark sparked public outrage, first from Morales’ mother, Auliea Hanlon, and then from people calling for the judge to at least be censured.

What. The. Fuck.

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  1. Turner

    I signed a moveon.org petition that was on Facebook asking Judge Baugh to retire. Probably won’t have any effect. But he needs to hear from people about his decision.

  2. If this is anything like the issue of the now-retired federal judge Richard Cebull, we’ll see a committee take the matter under consideration and then disband after everyone has forgotten about it.

    If this judge was elected, I wonder if a recall is not in order?

  3. lizard19

    here is an interesting comment from cowgirl I thought worthy of copy/paste:

    While I in no way support some of the comments that were made by Judge Baugh, people need to understand that the Billings Gazette made a fundamental error in its reporting. This sentence was not for the rape. The rape case happened three years ago, and unfortunately, the victim passed away prior to prosecution, and the case against Mr. Rambold became almost non-existent. As a result, the prosecution and defense came to an agreement, one part of which was that Rambold would enter into group treatment. Prior to finishing his treatment, he was kicked out of the group, resulting in a simple probation violation. This is what Judge Baugh sentenced Rambold for: a probation violation, not rape. It is unfortunate that we can’t rely on our local newspapers for accurate coverage of the issues anymore. As I said above, I don’t condone many of the things Judge Baugh stated at the hearing, but people are directing their anger in the wrong direction on this issue.

    • It is an interesting comment but it misses the obvious as Chris points out below, and as I did at Cowgirls’. The sentencing wasn’t for a probation violation on a drunk driving charge. It was for a probation violation for the rape of a 14 year old girl. I would write again that 30 days is a travesty, but that word just doesn’t sum up the horror or implication of such a weak sentence.

      What that comment does do is point out that at least as much anger and outrage should be expressed towards the TC Attorney’s Office for a pathetic prosecution of what should still be the people’s legal interests.

      • Apologies, that should be, “YC” as in Yellowstone County”.

    • Pete Talbot

      The above comment says the victim “passed away.” That’s a hell of a euphemism for committed suicide. And one might posit that her suicide was related to the rape and subsequent publicity. Justice has not been served here.

  4. Big Swede

    Look on the bright side.

    At least he didn’t link a joke/cartoon about our current president.

  5. Chris

    But “cowgirl’s” comment doesn’t address the fact that Baugh was making comments ABOUT THE RAPE, and ABOUT THE VICTIM, to a courtroom where the victim’s mother had just pleaded with him to send Rambold to prison. Also, stating not once, but twice, that he stood by his comments and decisions. Until this went viral. Now, his pathetic attempt at an apology stated to the billings gazette this morning are only hollow words of his own consequence. Nothing like covering your ass right before election. Which, by the way was never in the way of the public re-electing him, since he ran UNOPPOSED practically since 1984.

    His comments, his pathetic attempt to apologize does not in any way lead us to believe he is sincere. If this hadn’t gone viral, does anyone truly expect he would have offered an apology on his own accord? Not bloody likely!

    And what about his comments made public last month to the woman he released with her 13th DUI? Baugh said, “if you drink and drive and kill someone, you will spend time in prison”. This judge has obviously become so brazen with his power that he feels he does not have to be held accountable for the drunks and rapists he allows back onto the street, where the rest of us continue to be at risk because he has abused his powers and clearly does not impose sentencing allowable by law.

    (btw, under MT code, Rambold still stood to serve the MINIMUM of 2 years to life) on the original rape charge (felony rape I might add) before the young victim took her life. The current sentence for violating conditions of Rambold’s treatment plan in no way excuses Baugh’s failure to give a sense of justice to the victim’s family. In fact, what he did is add insult to injury. He used his personal opinion rather than the law in sentencing. That should be cause for disbarring alone, if not for a serious ethics violation investigation.

  6. Billings Dad

    It’s even worse when you look at the whole story.

    The girls and their friends would come home from school, calling their teacher a ‘Creeper’.

    After complaints about this teacher, there was a hearing, and the school issued him a written warning /reprimand, saying to stay away from young girls.

    Obviously he didn’t.

    Of course word got out about his ‘affair’ with his 14-year-old student, and he was put on paid administrative leave for months, while the girl was made a spectacle of at Senior High.

    After her suicide, there was no victim anymore, and she was ‘just’ a Mexican girl, who was living with her Aunt because her parents were not married and never around, so there was a generous plea deal for him.

    And the girls family was paid $91,000 by SD2 because they didn’t protect her from him, even after they found out.

    If she had been blond haired, and blue-eyed, from a ‘good’ family, this POS would have been in Deer Lodge after a week-long trial.

    We need some Montana Vigilantes.

  7. Karen M.

    My understanding is that the sentencing on Monday was in fact, the sentence result of the original deferred plea agreement, in which, if Rambold completed sexual offender treatment, stayed clear of unsupervised children and “other conditions” not specified in the media, then rape charges would be dropped, and any deviation of his conditions would force the county attorney’s office to re-file the rape charge, which in fact, is what happened. The rape charge was re-filed, in addition to violation of his conditions.. Monday’s sentence is obviously the result of the violated deferred sentence conditions imposed on Rambold and what appears to also be the felony rape charge, so the 30 days in jail is the ultimate sentence for felony rape. What is happening here, it seems, is Judge Baugh is downplaying his role in his sentencing by telling news outlets his decision was only for the conditions violation when by all appearances, it was also for the felony rape charge re-filed by the prosecution. Please remember, it was reported in the Billings Gazette (December or January I think), that Judge Baugh stated he did not agree to prosecution of Rambold’s felonly rape charge, rather the violation of his conditions, so this was practically already pre-determined by Judge Baugh. Since there is little to be found in the case of court documents (because the victim was a minor, and her death caused difficulties for the prosecution), many facts have not been brought out to the public. I believe it is crystal clear however, that Monday’s sentence of 30 days in jail includes for the felony rape and the violations of Rambold’s original plea deal. Thus, the outrage and public calling for unseating this despicable judge.

  8. Karen M.

    As if this hasn’t already been posted a million times all over the net, I looked again, but it’s clear – Monday’s sentence was in fact for felony rape charges (part of the deferred plea deal that required Rambold to undergo treatment and other conditions for the admission of one rape charge). So cowgirl’s comments are totally redundant.

    Snippets from USA Today article, due to length:

    “The sentence came after Rambold was terminated in November from a sex-offender treatment program that was part of a deal to defer prosecution for felony rape, the Gazette reports. Rambold had been having unsupervised visits with minors, who were family members, and did not inform counselors that he had been having sexual relations with a woman.”

    “The judge said he wasn’t convinced that the reasons for Rambold’s termination from the program warranted the 10-year prison term recommended by prosecutors.”

    “After his 30-day jail term ends, Rambold will be on supervised probation for 15 years and must register as a sex offender.”

    “Wednesday, the newspaper reported, Baugh reiterated that the sentence was “appropriate given the nature of the case.” He compared Monday’s hearing to “a probation violation in which a defendant is resentenced for violating terms of a suspended sentence,” the Gazette wrote.”

    “Baugh told the newspaper Tuesday that he stood by his comments that Cherice was a troubled youth who was older than her age when it came to sexual matters. That didn’t make Rambold’s sex with Cherice any less of a crime, he said.

    “The teen’s death complicated the case, Baugh said.

    “I think what people are seeing is a sentence for rape of 30 days. Obviously on the face of it, if you look at it that way, it’s crazy,” the judge said. “No wonder people are upset. I’d be upset, too, if that happened.”

    And from the LA Times:

    “Rambold was first charged in 2008 with three felony counts of sexual intercourse without consent after the girl reported to a church counselor that she had been sexually assaulted by a teacher, court documents show.

    “After the girl’s death, Rambold admitted to one rape charge and entered a plea agreement in which the case would be dismissed provided he complete a sex-offender treatment program and meet other conditions, including having no unsupervised contact with children.

    Prosecutors re-filed the charges in December after learning he had been terminated from the treatment program for having unsupervised visits with family members who were minors, according to court documents.”

    Keep in mind that the majority of news sources are repeating the Billings Gazette articles and/or AP, so the original sources are in fact, the Billings Gazette, which usually, gets access to court records.

    Baugh is definitely downplaying this to the public to save his own ass, and needs to be called for it, as well as the county attorney’s office. Twito just announced his office will investigate the judge’s sentencing, but doubtful anything will be done about it.

  9. lizard19

    thank you, everyone, for the comments.

    also, a clarification: the comment I copied and pasted is from cowgirl’s site, not the author(s).

  10. Karen M

    Finally.

    “A Yellowstone County prosecutor says he believes a state judge erred in giving a 30-day prison sentence to a former teacher convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl who later committed suicide.

    County Attorney Scott Twito said Thursday that a legal review of the case suggests former teacher Stacey Rambold should have received at least two years in prison.”

    More:

    http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/prosecutor-judge-may-have-erred-in-rape-sentence/article_50a14718-7140-52b1-ae3c-0295c657ed9f.html

    I can understand Twito’s reservations to jump the gun in investigation, but come on, didn’t we know this already (the minimum 2 years)?!




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