Skip to comments.Judge's remarks about teenage rape victim spark outrage
Posted on 08/27/2013 11:58:51 PM PDT by servo1969
A judges conclusion that a 14-year-old Billings rape victim was as much in control of the situation as her schoolteacher rapist has sparked outrage across the nation.
Organizers have scheduled a Thursday rally and a petition drive against District Judge G. Todd Baugh, who Monday handed down a net sentence of 30 days in jail to former Senior High teacher Stacey Rambold, 54, who raped 14-year-old Cherice Moralez.
The sentence came after Rambold, 54, failed to meet sex offender treatment requirements and other conditions that would have ended the now six-year-old case.
Moralez killed herself weeks before her 17th birthday as her sexual relationship with Rambold became a criminal case.
Under state law, children younger than 16 cannot consent to sexual intercourse, which makes Rambolds crime felony rape.
However, when issuing the sentence Baugh said Moralez not only had equal control of the rape, but was also a troubled youth older than her chronological age. The remark sparked outrage, first from Moralez mother, Auliea Hanlon, and then from people calling for the judge to at least be censured.
Hanlon left the court screaming You people suck. The mother blames Rambold for Moralez suicide and told the court the former teacher belonged in prison.
Tuesday, Hanlon said in a written statement that she no longer believes in justice after Baughs remarks and sentence order.
As I looked on in disbelief, Judge Baugh stated that our teenage daughter was as much in control of the situation as her teacher was, Hanlon said. She wasnt even old enough to get a drivers license. But Judge Baugh, who never met our daughter, justified the paltry sentence saying she was older than her chronological age.
I guess somehow it makes a rape more acceptable if you blame the victim, even if she was only 14.
Public objection to Baughs remarks has prompted a protest planned for 12:15 p.m. Thursday at Veterans Memorial Park, which adjoins Yellowstone County Courthouse in downtown Billings. The story was recirculated on the Internet and drew comments on the websites of several national news publications.
Something is not right with our system when a judge can make that kind of decision, said Marian Bradley of the Montana National Organization for Women. Unless we show our outrage, none of our children are safe and no one will think of us. I think the judge needs to be reviewed and he needs to be sanctioned.
Bradley, who has worked with the victims of sexual assault, will circulate a petition calling for the state to investigate Baughs sentence, which county prosecutors Tuesday told the Associated Press was within statutory guidelines.
Protest organizer Sheena Rice said the suggestion that any 14-year-old child was on equal footing with a rapist in his 40s, let alone a person of authority, like a schoolteacher, was outrageous.
What angered me is that the judge said the victim was older than her chronological age, Rice said. I dont care if she wore makeup. I dont care if she dressed provocatively. She was a 14-year-old and he was in a position of power.
As a victim of rape, Rice said she thinks its strange that the justice system would have mandatory sentences for drug crimes, but that a rape conviction could involve a month in jail.
On Tuesday, Baugh stood by his comments that Moralez was a troubled youth who was older than her age when it came to sexual matters. That didnt make Rambolds sex with Moralez any less of a crime, he said.
Obviously, a 14-year-old cant consent. I think that people have in mind that this was some violent, forcible, horrible rape, Baugh said. It was horrible enough as it is just given her age, but it wasnt this forcible beat-up rape.
Baugh said Moralezs death complicated the county attorneys ability to prosecute Rambold. After Moralezs suicide, the prosecution and defense reached an agreement that Rambold would enter sexual-offender treatment. If the former teacher completed treatment and complied with other conditions, the case would have been closed.
But Rambold broke terms of the agreement by associating with teens who were his relatives and by becoming sexually involved with an adult, but not notifying authorities.
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, its crazy, Baugh said. No wonder people are upset. Id be upset, too, if that happened.
But the young lady of a century ago and the 14 year old of today are different in maturity levels, even as biology marches forward.
Some blame the estrogenic compounds to be found in greater numbers for the rapid onset of puberty in kids nowadays, and the media sexualization of almost everything doesn't help, but that doesn't change the fact that what the man did was illegal.
Compound that with the violation of the public trust that their youth would be safe from exploitation by someone in his profession, and that makes his actions all the more unacceptable.
Whether or how much the child's suicide was related to the incident remains in question in my mind, too. While her death may tidy up 'loose ends' for him, it makes me even less inclined (as if that is possible) to excuse his behaviour.
The judge should have thrown the book at him, because at 14 she can't legally consent. The presumption has been historically that that constitutes rape, and many 17-18 year olds have been held harshly to account for the same violation, even though the case could be made on their behalf that the two were a couple in love with a minor (numerically) but legally significant age difference.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.