Posted: Aug 29, 2013 2:26 PM by MTN News
Updated: Aug 29, 2013 2:30 PM
BILLINGS - Protesters converged on the lawn of the Yellowstone County courthouse on Thursday to express their outrage over what many believe was a lenient sentence for Stacey Rambold, who admitted raping a 14-year-old girl who later killed herself.
"The demand and goal of this is to ask the judge to resign. The broader message is to really unite as a community against victim-blaming," said protest organizer Sheena Davis, adding that the protest aimed to address "a larger issue on how we protect children from rape in this justice system."
The protest, organized in part by the National Organization for Women, called for Yellowstone County District Judge G. Todd Baugh to step down, not just for the sentence, but also for remarks he made during the Monday's sentencing, which some have called "victim-shaming."
On Monday, Baugh presided over the sentencing of former Billings High School teacher Stacey Rambold; Rambold admitted in October 2007 to raping 14-year old Cherice Moralez, who later committed suicide.
Baugh sentenced Rambold to 31 days in jail. During the sentencing, Baugh said Moralez was "older than her chronological age" and that she had some control of situation with the teacher.
Baugh came under fire for those statements and faces a firestorm of criticism from people in Billings and around the country.
Baugh issued an apology on Wednesday: "I made some really stupid remarks. It didn't come out right and I owe the whole county, but maybe even the whole country, especially women, an apology."
He continued, "I'm not sure just what I was attempting to say at that point, but it didn't come out correct. What I said was demeaning to all women, not what I believe in, and irrelevant to the sentencing. I owe all our fellow citizens an apology."
Baugh also said that he is comfortable with the sentence and was going to put an addendum into the court record to try and explain the sentence.
The sentence was a travesty, the teen's mother, Auliea Hanlon, told CNN on Wednesday night, two days after the sentencing: "I was horrified. Horrified. He broke the law, he confessed, and he got to walk away."
Hanlon said she was particularly upset that Baugh said during Rambold's sentencing that her daughter "seemed older than her chronological age" and was "as much in control of the situation" as the teacher.
Baugh apologized on Wednesday: "I made some references to the victim's age and control," he told MTN News. "I'm not sure just what I was attempting to say at that point, but it didn't come out correct. What I said was demeaning to all women, not what I believe in and irrelevant to the sentencing."
About the sentencing itself, Baugh said he would file an addendum to the case file to "better explain" his rationale.