Judge who jailed rapist for 30 days reconsiders sentence

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A judge who caused a double-whammy outcry when he sentenced a former teacher to 30 days for raping a teen girl and then justified the short jail term by seeming to blame the 14-year-old for the crime is now reconsidering his ruling.

The girl later killed herself — in part, because of the trial, her mother said.

Now the ex-teacher, Stacey Rambold, 34, is due back in court on Friday, The Associated Press reported. District Judge G. Todd Baugh said that upon further reflection, he finds that state law may actually require a minimum sentence of two years.

“In the Court’s opinion, imposing a sentence which suspends more than the mandatory minimum would be an illegal sentence,” the judge wrote, in a determination this week.

But the community is still outraged at his comments — which can’t be overturned or taken back. Mr. Baugh during sentencing said the victim, Cherise “Cherry” Moralez, was “older than her chronological age” and suggested she was at least partially in control with the teacher. He later apologized for his comments, but community members rallied around his courthouse office, calling for his removal.

And most aren’t taking solace in his call for a new sentencing hearing for Mr. Rambold.

“I wish the judge had been thoughtful enough to get it right the first time,” one woman who’s followed the case said, in the AP report. “The judge cannot take back the words he said when he blamed the victim. As far as we’re concerned, Judge Baugh has lost the trust of this community.”

On top of that, Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito said Mr. Baugh may not be legally allowed to have a do-over for the ex-teacher’s sentencing, without going through the property appeals channel.

Technically, Mr. Rambold was sentenced to 15 years with all but 31 days suspended. He was then given a one-day credit for time served.

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