Montana Judge G. Todd Baugh's Awful Victim-Blaming Comments Get Him Suspended & Censured
Former judge G. Todd Baugh is accustomed to doling out justice. But the Montana judge, who landed himself in hot water last year for horribly insensitive rape comments, got a well-deserved taste of his own medicine when the Montana Supreme Court ordered Baugh be suspended and publicly censured. Baugh made headlines last year when he handed down a scant sentence for a 47-year old teacher who admitted to raping his 14-year old student. The victim later committed suicide.
The censure, issued Wednesday, says that judges are required "to act in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary and avoid impropriety or the appearance of impropriety. Judge Baugh has admitted that he violated that rule." Yeah, no joke.
Just in case things weren't clear, the Montana Supreme Court added: "There is no place in the Montana judiciary for perpetuating the stereotype that women and girls are responsible for sexual crimes committed against them."
Not only did Baugh somehow rationalize that 30 days in jail would be an appropriate punishment for such a heinous crime, but he attempted to verbalize these justifications. He failed. Miserably. Speaking from the bench last August, Baugh managed to victim blame ("a troubled youth, but a youth that was probably as much in control of the situation"; "older than her chronological age") and assign degrees to assault ("it wasn't this forcible beat-up rape").
Unsurprisingly to perhaps everyone but Baugh, he'd been ripped to shreds. An online petition calling for his resignation has reached nearly 60,000 signatures, and the story made the rounds in national media. Baugh backpedaled feverishly, calling himself a "blithering idiot" and held a new hearing for the case. The teacher could not be re-sentenced by Baugh himself, but the Montana Supreme Court has intervened, overturning the original ruling. It seems that Montana's highest court is doing all it can to right Baugh's wrongs, responding swiftly since the initial outcry last August.
In maybe the smartest move he's made in the last year, Baugh decided that following his 31-day unpaid suspension starting July 1, which will stretch to the end of his term, he will not seek reelection. (Yeah, like that was even an option.)
If there is one thing that has come from all of this awfulness, it is the spotlight on something we all should have known anyway: The culture of victim blaming is inexcusable.