Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh has apologized for remarks that seemed to blame a 14-year-old rape victim while he was sentencing the 54-year-old teacher who assaulted her, reports the Billings Gazette. “I don’t know what I was thinking or trying to say,” Baugh said. “It was just stupid and wrong.” On Monday, Baugh sentenced Stacey Rambold to 15 years in prison but suspended all but 31 days. Explaining the sentence, Baugh said victim Cherice Moralez was “as much in control of the situation” as the teacher. Baugh also said Moralez was “older than her chronological age.”
The girl later committed suicide. Moralez’s mother, Auliea Hanlon, testified at the hearing that the rapes of her daughter were a major reason for her suicide. The judge’s statements were picked up by numerous national and international news organizations and sparked outrage among many people, including the Montana chapter of the National Organization for Women. A petition seeking Baugh’s resignation is being circulated, and a protest was planned for Thursday.