The much publicized rape case in Billings is getting press across Montana and now across the country. I spoke with my brother in New Hampshire and he was outraged as well. CNBC has picked up the story and the truth is out. Once again, Montana gets in the spotlight for yet another event that defines us in a rather pathetic way. We are better than this and this judge’s decision and statements should not define all of us.
I am taking a communications class at FVCC right now and human interaction has a number of tenants that I will not bore you with, but one is that you cannot take back things that have been said. All of us wish we could take back words as they fall from our lips, but they are set in stone and up for interpretation. The statements Justice Baugh made pointedly blamed the 14-year-old girl. Being “older than her chronological age” does not begin to justify the ruling. This would not work if she had been busted for underage drinking. What a precedent that would be, “Yes officer, I may be 14 but I am far beyond my chronological age and actually 21!”
Which one of these two people were in control, the 14-year-old girl or the 50-year-old teacher? Our instructors are authority figures, especially for any young person in school. Was the teacher, Stacey Rambold the victim of the allures of a 14-year-old? Let me guess, he was powerless to her powers of persuasion? We all make daily moral decisions, to steal, or not to steal, to kill or let live. Our moral compass, as it is, generally works well, but this type of highly publicized heinous crime is generally an anomaly of judgment at the highest level. It is nothing new that a position of power has proven to corrupt, and when trust is broken; a powder keg of emotion is on tap.
Cherice Moralez is dead; she can’t be questioned as she took her own life prior to this going to trial. Would it change things to put her on the stand? Could we gleam some understanding and validate what we have preconceived as the truth? Would she really be guilty of something besides misplaced trust? As a father of three sons (I never raised a daughter) I fully realize bad decisions are part of growing up and our kids don’t always take the right path. That is why, the responsibility of being an adult, one who has been there, done that, can be a positive influence or used as a tool to manipulate.
Judge G. Todd Baugh has served the court in Billings since 1984 and has seen controversy before, as interpretation of the law is not an easy task. With this case, the judge has shown he is not attuned to the reality that victims of sexual assault are not culpable of the sex crimes committed against them. The judge had it right and found Mr. Stacey Rambold guilty of rape – open and shut case. But the sentence applied to the crime lacks logic and certainly reflects the sentiment that the judge apparently thought the teacher was the victim. And perhaps he is a victim, a victim of his own bad choices.
Both men in my opinion made bad choices, Mr. Rambold as he dropped the ball where true morality counted and the judge with his remarks and lack of appropriate sentencing. The time is now to lay blame where blame is due. This judge should step down, and I signed a petition asking for that very action.
I am not writing this as a father of three daughters, but of three sons. If I don’t tell them this is wrong, who will? Apparently not our courts.
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