Advocates for women urged the Montana Supreme Court on Friday to strike down a one-month prison sentence for a former high school teacher convicted of raping a freshman student.
In a friend-of-the-court brief, six advocacy groups told justices they should send the case to a new judge for re-sentencing.
Judge G. Todd Baugh in Billings said in August that the 14-year-old victim appeared “older than her chronological age.” He sentenced former Billings teacher Stacey Rambold to 15 years in prison with all but one month suspended on a conviction for sexual assault.
The judge later apologized for his remarks, and made an unsuccessful attempt to re-sentence Rambold after prosecutors said the short prison term violated state law.
Rambold remains free pending an appeal from the Montana Attorney General’s Office. He has not yet responded to the state’s argument that he should serve a minimum four years in prison.
The victim killed herself before the case went to trial.
Seattle attorney Vanessa Soriano Power wrote in Friday’s brief that Baugh’s leniency toward the defendant was influenced by a common “rape myth” that the victim shares blame. She said his remarks trivialized the crime.
“Rambold was a 49-year-old teacher in a position of power who took advantage of, and sexually assaulted, a child,” Power wrote.
“There is simply no way for the District Court judge to walk back his statements.”
Under Montana law, children younger than 16 cannot consent to sexual intercourse.
Friday’s brief was filed on behalf of Legal Voice, Legal Momentum, Montana NOW, Pennsylvania NOW, the Womens’ Law Project and the Sexual Violence Law Center.
Advocates are waging a separate campaign to have Baugh removed from the bench over his actions in the case.