Montana Judge Who Gave Rapist Lenient Sentence, Blamed Victim, Censured by Montana Supreme Court

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A Montana judge who gave a rapist a 30-day sentence and said the victim shared responsibility for the crime was publicly reprimanded by the Montana Supreme Court July 22, the Associated Press reports.

District Judge G. Todd Baugh, of Billings, Mont., appeared before the highest court in Montana, where Chief Justice Mike McGrath read a prepared statement of censure—a rare move used to publicly indicate that a judge is guilty of misconduct. But censure is more than a slap on the wrist: Baugh will also be suspended from his bench for 31 days, beginning in December.

"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.

According to the AP, Baugh did not speak during his censure hearing and left the courtroom immediately afterward, not responding to questions from reporters. 

Last year, Baugh sentenced Stacey Rambold, a business teacher at Billings Senior High School at the time of the 2007 rape, to 30 days in prison after he pleaded guilty to sexual intercourse without consent. Rambold's victim was one of his students. She committed suicide while the case was pending trial.

During Rambold's trial, Baugh said that Rambold's victim was "probably as much in control of the situation as the defendant," and that she "appeared older than her chronological age."

Rambold completed his original sentence last fall and has registered as a sex offender, but the Montana Supreme Court ruled in April 2014 that the case required re-sentencing, and Rambold is expected to receive a new sentence Sept. 26.


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