You may remember us telling you about a horrific case in which a Montana judge issued a 31-day jail sentence to a teacher who raped a 14-year old student—while making statements that blamed the victim for the crime.
We’re glad to report that the Montana Supreme Court today issued a unanimous opinion agreeing with our position that the sentence was illegal under Montana law, which requires a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 4 years for such crimes. The Court also agreed with our arguments that the case needed to be reassigned to a new judge for re-sentencing.
In its decision today, the Montana Supreme Court held that “Judge Baugh’s statements reflected an improper basis for his decision and cast serious doubt on the appearance of justice.” The Court further held that “the idea that [the victim] could have ‘control’ of the situation is directly at odds with the law” and “disregards the serious power disparity that exists between an adult teacher and his minor pupil.” In addition, the Court found “there is no basis in the law for the court’s distinction between the victim’s ‘chronological age’ and [the trial court’s] perception of her maturity.”
Read the amicus brief: Legal Voice, Legal Momentum, Montana NOW, Pennsylvania NOW, Women's Law Project, and Sexual Violence Law Center