Cherice Moralez, a 14-year-old girl in Montana, recently committed suicide after being raped by her teacher. In sentencing her abuser to a mere 30 days in jail, state District Judge G. Todd Baugh explained that Cherice was a "troubled youth" and was "as much in control of her situation" as teacher Stacey Rambold was.
Judge Baugh has since issued an apology, saying that what he said was "stupid" and "not him," but the damage has been done. For an authority figure to condemn a rape victim is beyond abhorrent. People like Judge Baugh are the reason so many are afraid and ashamed to come forward when a wrong such as this has been done. If Judge Baugh is stupid enough to say a thing like this and not mean it, he is too unintelligent to be a judge. If he is ignorant enough to say it and mean it, he is too ignorant to be a judge.
For Judge Baugh to point at this child and say that she was as much in control of the situation as was Rambold is cruel and untrue. Both Rambold and Judge Baugh were in positions to protect Cherice, and both men have failed her. I cannot imagine what hell Cherice must have gone through in the last few weeks of her life.
Unfortunately, comments placing blame on victims are common to those of us that have been sexually abused — and it only lengthens our recovery process and lengthens our shame. I beg readers not to take Cherice Moralez's death lightly. Victims desperately need the support of those around them, and we must educate ignorant people and prove to victims that there are people willing to stand up and protect them from the evils that have been done to them.