Yesterday, we told you about a story coming out of Yellowstone County, Montana: A teacher who’d repeatedly raped his 14-year-old student received a 15-year suspended sentence and was ordered to spend just 31 days in prison. Why? Because, ruled Judge G. Todd Baugh, the victim “seemed older than her chronological age.” At the time of the crimes, Stacey Dean Rambold was 49, and an authority figure in the girl’s high school.
According to Judge Baugh, that didn’t matter, though, because the way the girl — whom Baugh had never even met or interviewed — acted was much more mature (i.e. slutty) than what Baugh considers an average 14-year-old to be. Now the judge is coming under fire for not only the insanely light sentence he gave to Rambold, but also for comments he made regarding the sexual and emotional status of the victim. Not only did Judge Baugh say that he believed the victim was much older than her age, he also asserted in his ruling that the victim was “as much in control of the situation” as her rapist.
Oh, but that’s not all!
Baugh would like it known that the 14-year-old wasn’t a rape victim like you see on “Law & Order: SVU.” Said Baugh: “Obviously, a 14-year-old can’t consent. I think that people have in mind that this was some violent, forcible, horrible rape. It was horrible enough as it is just given her age, but it wasn’t this forcible beat-up rape.”
Say what? Baugh makes a straight up value judgement on the relative trauma of the victim’s rape experience. As if a woman who wasn’t bruised or beaten isn’t as victimized, because she was just sexually violated. I guess in Baugh’s courtoom, you have to be bleeding and broken-limbed to be considered a “real” rape victim.
As for his excuse that the victim “seemed older than her chronological age,” Dr. Drew Pinsky said, “There’s a reason we have laws in place protecting young people. Their brain development isn’t such that they can render consent for something like sex. And for a judge to say that a 14-year-old to consent to this … It is outlandish in a way that I cannot describe.”
“There’s no such thing as someone being older than her chronological age who can magically have a brain of a 21-year-old,” Pinsky continued. “She may have behaved in a way that was inappropriate, but guess what? That’s a sign of mental illness. Those are the people we need to protect the most.”
Both MoveOn.org and Care2 have launched petitions calling for the dismissal of Judge Baugh. What does the victim think? We’ll never know. She committed suicide in 2011, as the case was making its way through the courts. [CNN]