Montana judge to be censured over rape comments

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Montana judge to be censured over rape comments
Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh reads a statement in his Billings courtroom on Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, explaining his 30-day sentence for a teacher who raped a student. Baugh had sought a re-sentencing hearing for defendant Stacey Rambold, but was blocked by the state Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)
Marian Bradley with the National Organization for Women, center, files a complaint with Montana Supreme Court Administrator Beth McLaughlin, right, calling for the removal of Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013, in Helena, Mont. Baugh handed down a 30-day prison sentence to a former teacher convicted of raping a student. Man at left is unidentified. (AP Photo/Matt Volz)
Marian Bradley with the National Organization for Women stands behind boxes containing 140,000 names and addresses of citizens who signed online petitions calling for the removal of Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013, in Helena, Mont. Supporters filed a complaint with the state Judicial Standards Commission against the judge who handed down a 30-day prison sentence to a former teacher convicted of raping a student. (AP Photo/Matt Volz)
Protesters gathered on the Yellowstone County Courthouse lawn in Billings, Mont. Thursday Aug. 29, 2013, calling for the resignation of a state judge over comments he made about the teenage victim in a rape case. Judge G. Todd Baugh has apologized for the comments but says he has no intention of resigning. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)
Auliea Hanlon receives a hug from a supporter during a Thursday Aug. 29, 2013 rally in which protesters called for the resignation of a judge who presided over the trial of a former teacher who raped Hanlon's daughter. Hanlon rejected Judge G. Todd Baugh's apology for his comment that her daughter was "older than her chronological age." before sentencing the rapist to 30 days in prison. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)
Protesters gathered on the Yellowstone County Courthouse lawn in Billings, Mont. Thursday Aug. 29, 2013, calling for the resignation of a state judge over comments he made about the teenage victim in a rape case. Judge G. Todd Baugh has apologized for the comments but says he has no intention of resigning. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)
Ray Bradley displays one of the boxes containing 140,000 names and addresses of people who signed online petitions calling for the removal of Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013, in Helena, Mont. Bradley and supporters filed a complaint with the state Judicial Standards Commission against the judge, who handed down a 30-day prison sentence to a former teacher convicted of raping a student. (AP Photo/Matt Volz)
Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh reads a statement apologizing for remarks he made about a 14-year-old girl raped by a teacher in Billings, Mont., Wednesday Aug. 28, 2013. State prosecutors said Wednesday they are appealing as "illegal" the 30-day sentence handed down by the Montana judge to the former teacher for raping the girl. The announcement came following widespread condemnation for the sentence and the judge's comments that the victim was "older than her chronological age." (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)
Marian Bradley with the National Organization for Women stands behind boxes containing 140,000 names and addresses of citizens who signed online petitions calling for the removal of Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013, in Helena, Mont. Supporters filed a complaint with the state Judicial Standards Commission against the judge who handed down a 30-day prison sentence to a former teacher convicted of raping a student. (AP Photo/Matt Volz)
Rally organizer Sheena Rice speaks to protesters gathered on the Yellowstone County Courthouse lawn in Billings, Mont. on Thursday Aug. 29, 2013. Rice called for the resignation of a state judge over comments he made about the teenage victim in a rape case. Judge G. Todd Baugh has apologized for the comments but says he has no intention of resigning. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)
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HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The Montana Supreme Court on Tuesday will publicly reprimand a judge who gave a lenient sentence to a rapist after suggesting the 14-year-old victim shared some of the responsibility for the crime.

District Judge G. Todd Baugh, of Billings, is scheduled to appear before the court in Helena, where one of the justices will read a censure statement prepared in advance. Baugh will likely get an opportunity to address the court, and the censure will then go into the record, state Supreme Court clerk Ed Smith said Monday.

The censure is a public declaration by the high court that a judge is guilty of misconduct. The rarely used punishment was recommended by the state's Judicial Standards Commission, which investigated complaints into the comments Baugh made during Stacey Dean Rambold's sentencing last year.

"It's a process basically to publicly reprimand them for their conduct bringing dishonor on their position and the court's judicial system," Smith said.

The standards commission can impose or recommend to the Supreme Court a range of disciplinary actions if it finds merit in a misconduct complaint filed against a judge. They range from a private letter of admonishment to removal from office.

The Supreme Court accepted the commission's recommendation for Baugh's censure, but also added a 31-day suspension. Chief Justice Mike McGrath wrote in the order that Baugh had eroded confidence in the court system.

Baugh sent Rambold to prison for 30 days last year after he pleaded guilty to sexual intercourse without consent.

Rambold was a 47-year-old business teacher at Billings Senior High School at the time of the 2007 rape. The victim was one of his students. She committed suicide while the case was pending trial.

Baugh said during Rambold's sentencing in August that the teenager was "probably as much in control of the situation as the defendant" and that she "appeared older than her chronological age."

Under state law, children younger than 16 cannot consent to sexual intercourse.

After a public outcry, Baugh apologized for the comments and acknowledged the short prison sentence violated state law. He attempted to revise it retroactively but was blocked when the state filed its appeal.

The last Montana judge was censured by the Supreme Court was District Judge Jeffrey Langton, of Hamilton, in 2005. Langton had pleaded guilty to a drunken driving charge, then was placed on probation for violating the terms of his sentence.

Rambold has been free since last fall after serving the original sentence. After his release, Rambold registered as a sex offender and was to remain on probation through 2028.

Prosecutors appealed Baugh's sentence, and the Supreme Court in April ordered a new sentencing in the case by a different judge. District Judge Randal Spaulding, of Roundup, is scheduled to re-sentence Rambold on Sept. 26.

Baugh, who is the son of former Washington Redskins quarterback "Slingin'" Sammy Baugh, has said he plans to retire after three decades on the bench when his term expires in December.

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