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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

December 5, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Censure or remove judge for comments about 14-year-old rape victim?

Judge G. Todd Baugh (AP Photo/Billings Gazette, Larry Mayer)

Judge G. Todd Baugh (AP Photo/Billings Gazette, Larry Mayer)

Remember District Judge G. Todd Baugh? He’s the Montana judge who remarked that a 14-year-old rape victim appeared “older than her chronological age” and was probably as much in control of the situation as her rapist, a teacher at the girl’s school – before sentencing the rapist to one month in prison.

The public furor that ensued had even Baugh admitting he had crossed an ethical line.

But yesterday, the judge told the Associated Press that he should not lose his job. Censure would be enough, said the 72-year-old who was first elected in 1984 and has not decided whether he will seek a sixth term next year. Baugh apologized, saying that while he should not have made the remarks, his views did not influence the sentence he handed down.

I beg to differ. The teacher, Stacey Rambold, was 47 in 2007 when he assaulted the young girl three times over several months in 2007. Deepening the tragedy, the girl killed herself before the case went to trial. The office of Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, calling Rambold’s sentence illegal and too lenient, has appealed to the Montana Supreme Court.

The Montana Judicial Standards Commission has yet to rule on Baugh, but the judge told the AP Tuesday that he expects to be censured by the judicial ethics panel over his comments. Do you think the judge should be censured or removed from office?

 

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