Montana Judge Ethics Shortcomings in 30-Day Rape Sentence Won't Lead to Resignation

A Montana judge stirred controversy after sentencing a teacher to only 30 days in prison after raping a student. Even though the student later committed suicide, the judge insisted he will not step down.

District Judge G. Todd Baugh elicited outrage after stating during the trial that the 14-year-old rape victim appeared "older than her chronological age."

Baugh insisted that he deserved to be censured but not prevented from serving on the bench.

"I shouldn't have said that. ... I don't contest that appearance of impropriety," Baugh told the Associated Press during an interview at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings. "I don't think it's appropriate to be removed."

The judge insisted that his comments were not related to the 30-day sentence he ruled on and stated that he has no intentions to resign.

Stacey Rambold, 54, was given the 30-day sentenced by Baugh even in light of the suicide of Cherice Moralez in 2010 at the age of 16.

Rambold was released from Montana State Prison in November. He must regularly check in with a probation officer in Billings and registered as a sex offender.

The public and prosecutors had complained that the sentence was inappropriate and was far below the legal minimum penalty for such a crime, but after an appeal for re-sentencing was denied, Rambold was able to walk free.

Rambold's light sentence enraged the victim's family and the public at large. People demonstrated to show their ire and petitions were circulated, calling for Judge Baugh to resentence Rambold or step down from the bench.

"Mrs. Hanlon," Cherice's mother, "was horribly disappointed with the 30-day sentence and was, frankly, quite shocked," said her attorney Shane Colton after sentencing. "She's pleased that the county attorney's office and attorney general's office understands that the most significant date to be considered in this sentencing is Cherice's birthday. She was 14."

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