By now, most people know the story of the Billings teacerh who pled guilty to raping a 14- yearold former student, who later committed suicide. The teacher, 54-year-old Stacy Dean Rambold, was sentenced to 15 years in prison with all but 31 days suspended and one day of time served included. The charge: sexual intercourse without consent with a minor.
While some may question how a man who committed such a disgusting act could walk away with simply a slap on the wrist, the true blame lies on the case judge, G. Todd Baugh. In his explanation of the sentencing, Judge Baugh told the prosecution and defense that the girl was, “much older than her chronological age” and was, “in as much control of the situation as the teacher.” I’m sorry, but I could have sworn that the age a person can give legal consent for sexual intercourse in montana was 16. Montana law defines the legal age of consent is 16 for females, and 18 for males. The age difference is irrelevant if one or both partners are under the legal age.
Even if the girl had been 16 at the time of the assault, there is no excuse for a 54-year-old man to even be hanging out with a student in a conjugal manner. Where I’m from in North Carolina, a man would be sentenced to 25 years in the blink of an eye. The minimum penalty in Montana for the charge Rambold received is a four year prison sentence. That is just Montana code 45-5- 503, “Sexual Intercouse without Consent”, a charge not involving children. Somehow he got 30 days, less than some people get for marijuana possession.
While Rambold’s family may be celebrating this “victory” of sorts, the story has received nationwide attention, bringing comments online from the East Coast, Texas and even Canada. While I cannot blame them, the case has gotten so much attention, people have demanded the sentence be reconsidered. Also, a public apology for the comment about the victims age was given, not the sentence.
[pullquote align=”right”]“I don’t know what I was thinking or trying to say,” Judge Baugh said, “It was just stupid and wrong. [/pullquote]
What I said was demeaning to women, not what I believe and irrelevant to the sentencing. My apologies to my fellow citizens.”
The judge continued on about how he actually thinks that people should be mad about the outcome, yet somehow this guy is still in our criminal justice system. The girl’s mother, Auleia Hanlon, hit the nail on the head with a written statement she made after the trial: “Judge Baugh, who never met our daughter, justified the paltry sentence saying she was older than her chronological age. I guess it somehow makes a rape more acceptable if you blame the victim, even if she is only 14.”
In the wake of so many controversial cases over the last three years, who can we look up to make sure that criminals are guaranteed to never hurt anyone again? Where is the justice for this little girl that the trial system supposedly guarantees? I guess only time will tell to see how long Judge Baugh keeps his robe and seat.