Civil Liberties

Montana Court Suspends Judge Who Said High School Freshman Was 'In Control' of Teacher Rape


The Montana judge who drew national condemnation for saying a 14-year-old rape victim was asking for it will be suspended without pay for one month. District Judge Todd Baugh had said in court that the victim—who later killed herself—was just as much to blame as her attacker, whom he sentenced to serve a mere 31 days in jail. 

Her attacker, by the way, was her 47-year-old public school teacher, Stacey Dean Rambold, and he admitted to "sexual intercourse without consent." But to Baugh, the victim was "a troubled youth" who looked "older than her chronological age," and this wasn't the "beat-up rape" variety—which meant the freshman girl entrusted to this man's care "was probably as much in control of the situation" as he was. 

The state's judicial ethics panel filed a complaint against Baugh, asking the Montana Supreme Court to publicly reprimand him. But the court took it a step further: In a decision Wednesday, it ordered Baugh—who is retiring at the end of the year—to be suspended from the bench withiout pay for his last month.

"There is no place in the Montana judiciary for perpetuating the stereotype that women and girls are responsible for sexual crimes committed against them," it stated.

In April, the court vacated Rambold's original sentence and remanded for resentencing by a new judge. On Tuesday, it denied his request to reconsider the ruling.