Montana Supreme Court overturns shameful 30-day sentence for rapist, judge to face review

A rapist who drew national attention when he received only 30 days in jail will return to court because his sentence was too lenient.

The Montana Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that ex-teacher Stacey Rambold’s short jail sentence violated state law, which demands a minimum of two years behind bars, the Seattle Times reported.

Judge G. Todd Baugh drew widespread rebuke when he appeared sympathetic to the defendant and said at sentencing that the 14-year-old rape victim was “probably as much in control of the situation as the defendant.”

He later apologized and, after recognizing the sentence he handed down violated state law, tried to fix it, but the state’s appeal prevented him from doing so.

A formal complaint against Baugh was filed with the Montana Judicial Standards Commission, and the Supreme Court said it would decide his fate at another time. Baugh, who agreed he should be censured, plans to retire at the end of the year, when his six-year term expires, according to the Times.

The victim, a student of in Rambold’s high school business class, committed suicide while her former teacher was awaiting trial in 2010. Her family told the Seattle Times through their attorney that the high court’s decision had restored their faith in the judicial system. The Supreme Court’s decision Wednesday “rebuffed attempts to place blame on a child victim of this horrible crime,” state Attorney General Tim Fox told the Times.

Rambold’s lawyers argued that the original sentence was fair and described the public’s outrage as “lynch mob mentality.” They said videotaped interviews showed the victim bore some responsibility.

Baugh expected  a new judge to be assigned to the case next week, the Times reported.

See also: Fed-up freshman’s ‘white privilege’ essay goes viral: ‘I apologize for nothing’

Richard Berkow

Former political news reporter Richard Berkow lost his idealism in the Kennedy years, and his innocence in Vietnam, Lebanon, and the Soviet Union. He hasn’t mellowed since, and can be harassed at [email protected]

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