Judge who blamed 14-year-old girl for being raped by teacher to receive lifetime achievement award

The Montana judge who blamed a 14-year-old girl for being raped by her teacher has been honored with a lifetime achievement award by a local bar association.

Former state District Judge G. Todd Baugh of Billings was chosen for the honour despite suggesting the girl shared blame for the incident and sentencing her assailant to only one month in prison.

Yellowstone Area Bar Association President Jessica Fehr said Thursday that Baugh, 73, is being given the award for achievements during his nearly 30 years on the job. He stepped down last year after being censured by the Montana Supreme Court for his comments and was suspended from the bench for 31 days.

Baugh sparked widespread outrage in 2013 over comments suggesting the student shared some responsibility for her rape, committed by Stacey Rambold. He made the controversial comments just before he sentenced the former teacher to 31 days behind bars.

The victim killed herself before the case went to trial.

After prosecutors appealed, Rambold was re-sentenced in September and is serving 10 years in Montana State Prison. Rambold is appealing the sentence.

Baugh told The Associated Press on Thursday that he didn’t know who nominated him for the achievement award. He also repeated his assertion that media reports about the rape case had not told the whole story.

“I’m not trying to say I didn’t make any mistakes. If you go into all the mistakes that were made, it would give a better-balanced report,” Baugh said.

Yellowstone Area Bar Association president Jessica Fehr said Baugh had been nominated for the award by members of the group, but she declined to provide any further information.

Marian Bradley, Northwest regional director for the National Organisation for Women, said the award was inappropriate given Baugh’s conduct on the bench. Regardless of his prior accomplishments, Bradley said the Rambold case cannot be overlooked.

“The last chapter in his career, he put himself out there and did not protect a young girl and did not protect a community,” Bradley said. “Giving him a lifetime achievement award is going to send people into tailspins.”

Despite the embarrassment Baugh brought on the Montana judiciary, at least some colleagues stuck by him. In December, state District Judge Russell Fagg wrote in a column for the Billings Gazette that Baugh handled more than 30,000 cases in his career.

“He has made thousands of good calls, and a few bad calls, as have all of us,” Fagg wrote. “Bottom line: Baugh is a wonderful person.”

Another one of those apparent bad calls? A man convicted of abusing his girlfriend was ordered to write “boys do not hit girls” 5,000 times.

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