How long does a teacher get for exploiting his position of power to rape a troubled teen who then committed suicide? Did I hear 30 years? More like 30 days. If you're banging your head on your desk over and over again, this is the appropriate reaction.
Stacey Dean Rambold taught high-school in Yellowstone County, Montana and at the age of 49, he started regularly raping his 14-year-old student, Cherice Morales. According to the Daily Mail, he was arrested in 2008 after authorities found out that he had been grooming Morales, a vulnerable freshman, for sex.
The Billings Gazette reports that the teen took her own life a few weeks before turning 17, right before the trial was set to begin. The mother of the young now deceased girl, says that the relationship with her teacher was a "major factor" in her suicide.
Stacey Dean Rambold in court, now aged 54-years-old. Image Credit: Paul Ruhter/Billings Gazette
Stacey Rambold repeatedly raped the teenager and only got 30 days in jail. Why you ask? Because the teenager who's wasn't old enough to consent, wanted it.
The judge said that since Morales had a troubled youth, she was "older than her chronological age" and was "as much in control of the situation" as the man who raped her, it was fine to let the man off with a measly 31 day sentence. Oh actually, make that 30 since he will be credited for the one day he served before the end of the trial. Apparently, prison works on the same principles as trial gym memberships. Although his entire sentence is 15 years for sexual intercourse without consent, he'll only spend 30 days of it actually in jail.
Montana District Court Judge G. Todd Baughe rationalized his outrageously low sentence by saying that the ex-teacher had already lost his house, his wife, his teaching license, and had become the "scarlet letter of the internet." The judge essentially said that a long sentence wasn't necessary because he had been "punished enough."
Yes, poor rapists! It's enough that they lose their jobs after admitting to raping children. We shouldn't further victimize them with verdicts that would actually reflect the severity of their crimes! Making criminals serve time for their felonies is just not fair, SAID NO JUDGE EVER.
Why is it just in the case of rape that the perpetrator gets more empathy than the victim? More importantly, why do we feel bad for rapists? Why don't we hold them accountable for their actions like we do with other criminals? A teenage girl has been abused and has died here. Why doesn't she matter?
This judge is not the first to empathize with rapists. Our society does it all the time. Whether it's in the way the media tells stories about rape or in the way we talk about consent. It's everywhere, but it becomes that much palpable (and scary) when it pops up in our justice system.
Perhaps someone needs to remind Judge G. Todd Baughe that under the law, children under the age of 16 cannot consent to sex. Perhaps someone needs to remind him that women never ask for rape. Perhaps someone needs to remind the judge of a concept called rape culture and that he's not only a product of it, he's perpetuating it.
Source: Daily Mail
The young girl's family was seeking a 20-year sentence so naturally, while the judge read the verdict, Morales' mother yelled "You people suck!" as she exited the courtroom in fumes. Later, she issued a statement saying that she had lost all faith in the justice system. "I guess somehow it makes a rape more acceptable if you blame the victim, even if she was only 14," she said.
"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 wasn't even old enough to get a driver’s license. But Judge Baugh, who never met our daughter, justified the paltry sentence saying she was older than her chronological age," the mother said in her statement.
Image Credit: Daily Mail
The judge's comments have predictably sparked major outrage in the Billings community. A demonstration is scheduled for Thursday at 12:15 at the Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Billings. The organizer of the march, Sheena Rice told the Billings Gazette that the judge's decision reflected a broader culture that blames victims of sexual assault.
"What angered me is that the judge said the victim was older than her chronological age,” Rice said. "I don’t care if she wore makeup. I don't care if she dressed provocatively. She was a 14-year-old and he was in a position of power."
The judge who's responsible for this horrifying verdict also happens to be up for re-election and so far he's running against an empty seat. If he's re-elected, he'll be running the show for another six years. I don't know about you, but the idea of him presiding over other court proceedings literally sends chills down my spine.
Share this story with your friends and sign Jaclyn Munson's change.org petition asking Judge Baugh to resign to make sure he never gets to let another rapist walk free.
You can also contact his office and complain. Take action!
Hon. G. Todd Baugh