Embattled judge won't seek re-election at end of term

2014-01-06T18:15:00Z 2014-06-27T15:06:09Z Embattled judge won't seek re-election at end of termBy ROB ROGERS rrogers@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

District Judge G. Todd Baugh will retire at the end of the year and not seek re-election.

A district court judge since 1985, Baugh announced his retirement to KTVQ on Monday.

Baugh came under intense fire and garnered national scorn in August when he said a 14-year-old rape victim appeared “older than her chronological age” and he sentenced her teacher-rapist Stacey Dean Rambold to just a month in prison.

He did not return calls to his office on Monday.

When a Gazette reporter went to the judge’s office on Monday afternoon, Baugh, sitting behind his desk, simply refused to speak. His secretary said, “He has no comment.”

It’s been a tumultuous six months for Baugh. The statements he made during Rambold’s sentencing were picked up by numerous national and international news organizations and sparked outrage among many people, including members of the Montana chapter of the National Organization for Women.

A petition seeking Baugh’s resignation was circulated, and an Aug. 29 protest drew hundreds of people to the Yellowstone County Courthouse lawn. Crews from “Good Morning America,” CNN and Fox News were there.

Two days after the sentencing, Baugh issued an apology for his comments, calling them “just stupid and wrong.”

Rambold was a teacher at Senior High when he was charged in October 2008 with three counts of felony sexual intercourse without consent for incidents involving one of his students, a then-14-year-old Cherice Moralez.

In February 2010, Moralez committed suicide, complicating prosecution, and so Rambold entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Yellowstone County Attorney’s Office. Under the agreement, the state would dismiss the charges against Rambold if he completed a sex offender treatment program and complied with other conditions.

The case was revived in December 2012 when prosecutors learned that Rambold had been terminated from the sex offender treatment program before completing it. A hearing for August 2013 was set.

It was in the that August hearing that Baugh said he was not convinced that the reasons for Rambold’s termination from treatment were serious enough to warrant the lengthy prison term suggested by the prosecution.

So instead, he sentenced Rambold to 30 days in jail and made his comments about the victim’s age, at the time adding that she “was probably as much in control of the situation as was the defendant.”

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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