She was "older than her chronological age."
It's the mantra of many statutory rapists, this notion that she was "mature" and "consented." It was also the saving grace of another rapist, former teacher Billings Senior High teacher Stacey Rambold, who admitted to raping 14-year-old student Cherice Moralez. She committed suicide while his prosecution was pending, reports the Billings Gazette.
Rambold will now serve 30 days, with credit for time served. Judge G. Todd Baugh, who handed down the lenient sentence, excused it during the hearing by citing her maturity and with the excuse that she was "as much in control of the situation" as her teacher.
The victim's mother, who exercised far more self-control than many of us would in the situation, shouted "You people suck!" before storming out of the courtroom during the hearing.
Judge Baugh has since issued an apology for his statements, calling them "just stupid and wrong," and stating that, "[w]hat I said is demeaning of all women, not what I believe and irrelevant to the sentencing." He hasn't, however, backtracked from the disturbingly lenient sentence for the 54-year-old teacher.
The defendant previously failed out of a sex offender treatment program that was part of his initial plea bargain. Judge Baugh felt that the violations of the program's rules (not notifying the staff of a new sexual relationship, unsupervised contact with minors) were insufficient to warrant a more severe sentence.
He plans to file an addendum to the case file next week that explains, in more detail, the reasons for the leniency.
We wait with baited breath.
After all, what possible reason could there be for suspending all but 31 days of a fifteen year sentence? This isn't one of those absurd applications of statutory rape law, like a Romeo and Juliet consensual teen romance, or two young teenagers being forced to register as sex offenders.
This is a 54-year-old teacher sleeping with a troubled 14-year-old student. There is no consent. There is only rape, a violation of a teacher-student relationship, and a sexual predator.
We'd think that there would be no need to write about this case, no need to express the immorality, or illegality, as it should be obvious, but apparently there is such a need. There may also be a need for a new judge in Billings, Montana.
- Judge in Montana teen rape case has been under fire before (CNN)
- Fmr. Chief District Judge Cebull Retires, Email Scandal Over? (FindLaw's Strategist Blog)
- Is There Still No Shame in Judge Wade McCree's Game? (FindLaw's Greedy Associates Blog)