Judge: 30-day Prison Term For Child Rapist May "Be An Illegal Sentence"

An incredibly depressing story became marginally less so Tuesday, as G. Todd Baugh, the Montana judge who sentenced a high school teacher to 30 days in prison for raping his 14-year-old student, took steps to extend the convicted rapist’s sentence.

Baugh filed an court order yesterday suggesting that the 30-day sentence handed down to 54-year-old Stacey Rambold may be shorter than the mandatory minimum, which county prosecutors argue should be two years.

“In this court’s opinion, imposing a sentence which suspends more than the mandatory minimum would be an illegal sentence,” Baugh wrote in the order. He explained that the 30-day sentence was based on a memorandum submitted by Rambold’s defense team, and that the prosecution “did not object or otherwise inform the Court on the issue of the applicable mandatory minimum.”

Rambold was initially sentenced to 15 years for raping Cherice Moralez, a student of his who later committed suicide as the case was pending. However, Baugh suspended all but 30 days of that sentence, with the ludicrous justification that Moralez was “as much in control of the situation” as her rapist and “older than her chronological age” when the rape took place (Baugh later gave a brief, half-hearted apology for this.)

Baugh’s conduct in the case sparked local and national outrage. Last week, 400 people rallied in downtown Billings to protest Baugh’s statements and the sentence, while over 47,000 people have signed a MoveOn.org petition calling for Baugh’s resignation.

The defense and prosecution will meet in court this Friday to debate the amended sentence. In the meantime, state and county attorneys are currently in consultations to determine whether to appeal the case to the state Supreme Court.

Photo: Billings Gazette