By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi
Cherice Moraliz committed suicide just weeks before her 17th birthday in 2010. Her mother said that her daughter could no longer cope with the ridicule and sheer stress of repeated rape at the hands of a Billings, Montana high school business teacher when the truth came to light. Stacey Dean Rambold, who was 49 at the time, raped Cherice over a period of three months in 2007. Indicted for rape in 2008, Rambold was recently given a 15-year prison sentence, all of which but 30 days was suspended.
Paltry as the sentence was, what the judge, G. Todd Baugh said, was equally shocking. He announced that the 14-year-old victim was “older than her chronological age” and that she was “as much in control of the situation” as the perpetrator [“Montana Legal Officials Step in on Rape Case Sentence”, The New York Times, September 8, 2013]. Yes, a judge in a court of law announced proclaimed these observations at the sentencing.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but what a crock.
One’s heart goes out to the late Cherice Moralez, her confusion, her shame, her isolation, and to her mother, who loved her daughter. I cannot even capitalize the j in the word Judge because Baugh doesn’t deserve the title. A judge is supposed to uphold the law, not berate the dead 14-year-old victim and condone the child molester. Apparently Baugh missed that in his law school courses and judge training. One can only hope the Montana Supreme Court will see justice better served for the young rape victim as it attempts to right an egregious wrong.
Ciao for now.