How many kinds of rape are there? Date rape, forcible rape, statutory rape, and I’m sure many more. The one thing all rapes have in common is that they are all a form of sexually violating someone who cannot or does not consent. It is unconscionable, immoral, and disgusting. The trauma and confusion rape victims feel is something most cannot comprehend. Imagine the shock of a rapist being sentenced to a mere 30 days for having sex with a troubled 14 year old girl because “it wasn’t this forcible beat-up rape.”
Cherice Morales was an emotionally troubled 14 year old girl when she met Stacey Dean Rambold, 35 years her senior. Rambold was one of Morales teachers at Billings Senior High School in Billings, Montana. As this sort of predator is known to do, Rambold began to groom Morales for a sexual relationship. Court documents acknowledge that this was not forcible rape, though the impact of the affair is thought to be one of the key factors in the teen’s subsequent suicide.
In defense of his recommended 30 day sentence, Montana Judge Todd Baugh stated that then 14 year old Morales was “older than her chronological age” and “as much in control of the situation” as Rambold. No where in this sentencing does Baugh account for the fact that, as a teacher and trusted adult, Rambold had complete control of the situation or that at the age of 14 a child is not emotionally capable of offering consent. In an even more appalling twist, four years prior to Rambold’s offenses, the school had warned him to avoid touching or being alone with his female students. At this time it is unclear what prompted the warning.
One can’t help but wonder what exactly would be considered a violent enough attack for the judge to give a longer sentence. Must the rape include a bruise, cut, or some more drastic physical damage in order to evoke enough outrage in the court to hand down a legitimate ruling? According to Rambold’s attorneys the ruling is more than fair stating that their client, “has lost his job, his license, his house and his wife and suffered the ‘scarlet letter of the Internet’ as a result of the allegations” and “had been punished enough”.
The protesting citizens of Montana and the National Organization of Women disagree. While there have been pleas to have the case reopened or the sentence extended no further action has been taken, even in light of the fact that Rambold has been kicked out of his mandatory sex offender program for having unsupervised visits with minors. While his attorneys maintain that the minors in question are Rambold’s relatives, it is nonetheless a violation of the terms of his sentence.
It is not unimaginable to think that it wouldn’t matter whether the minors were his relatives given the fact that he has admittedly taken advantage of a child placed under his watchful eye, a child who looked up to him with trust, and when seeking kindness found instead enough guilt and shame to cause her to take her own life. Is that rapey enough for you Judge Baugh? Would you have ruled differently if she’d made herself less appealing? Was she promiscuous and deserving of this sort of violation of trust? Would you be okay with Rambold becoming your grandchildren’s “friend”? I doubt it.
While Judge Baugh has apologized for his choice of words there is no apology from him on his sentencing. Baugh is currently running unopposed for re-election to the bench. If no one steps up and challenges him he will have six more years to hang around deciding what just how much raping has to go on before a real sentence is handed down. Citizens of Montana, this is your legal system at work.