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A Montana judge has apologised after sparking outrage by handing down only a 30-day sentence to a teacher for raping a 14-year-old student who later killed herself.
However Yellowstone County District Judge G Todd Baugh stood by his sentencing decision, and limited his apology to comments he made that the victim seemed “older than her chronological age” and was “as much in control of the situation” as the teacher.
Those comments sparked nationwide outrage and protesters gathered outside his court on Thursday to call on him to step down.
“I was outraged about what happened,” organiser Sheena Rice told the crowd, according to the Billings Gazette newspaper. “It really points to a larger problem of victim blaming in rape cases across the country.”
Baugh on Monday sentenced former high school teacher Stacey Dean Rambold, 54, to 30 days in jail for a 2008 incident after he pled guilty to one charge of sexual intercourse without consent with the victim. The girl committed suicide some three years later as the case wound its way through the legal system.
In his apology Baugh said he “made some really stupid remarks.”
“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,” he said.
“I think this sentence is a joke, a travesty,” the victim's mother Auliea Hanlon, told CNN. “People will lose faith in our justice system. I have.” - Sapa-dpa