A Montana judge is facing calls to resign after saying that a 14-year-old girl who was raped by a teacher was “older than her chronological age”.
Yellowstone County District Judge G Todd Baugh apologised after making the comments while sentencing the teacher, Stacey Rambold, to 15 years in prison and then reducing the penalty to 31 days by suspending most of the sentence. With one day’s credit for time served, Rambold’s penalty was cut to only 30 days for the rape of the girl, who later committed suicide. Judge Baugh also said that the young girl, Cherice Moralez, was “as much in control of the situation” as the 54-year-old teacher.
According to the local Billings Gazette, the light sentence, handed down on Monday, prompted the victim’s mother to scream, “You people suck!” and storm out of the courtroom.
On Wednesday, the judge apologised, telling the same newspaper: “I don’t know what I was thinking or trying to say. It was just stupid and wrong.”
In a letter to the paper’s editor, he added: “What I said is demeaning of all women, not what I believe and irrelevant to the sentencing. My apologies to all my fellow citizens.”
Calls continue to mount for him to step down from his post. An online petition asking “that Judge Baugh resign from his position” on Moveon.org had attracted 29,171 signatures by this morning.