To: Jessica Fehr, President, Yellowstone Area Bar Association

Yellowstone Bar Association: Don’t reward the judge who blamed a teenager for her rape

The Yellowstone Bar Association just honored Judge Baugh, a disgraced Montana judge, with Lifetime Achievement Award. Last year, Judge Baugh was censured by the Montana Supreme Court after suggesting that a 14-year-old student was partially to blame for her rape by a teacher. The former teacher was sentenced to just one month in prison, and the girl took her own life while the trial was pending.

The Yellowstone Bar Association must rescind this award immediately.

Why is this important?

Honoring Judge Baugh with a Lifetime Achievement Award is disgraceful. With this award, the Yellowstone Bar Association is sending a dangerous message to sexual assault victims that they will not find justice in a court of law. Victim blaming has no place on a judge’s bench.

After being censured by the Montana Supreme Court for his comments and suspended from the bench for 31 days, Judge Baugh stepped down and ended his 30 year career as a state judge. Prosecutors appealed the verdict in the original rape case and the teacher, Stacey Rambold, was re-sentenced. He is now serving 10 years in Montana State Prison. Rambold is appealing the sentence.

Victims of sexual assault routinely face harassment and shaming when they come forward about their assault to seek justice. To honor a judge who blamed a child for her own assault is unconscionable. Judge Baugh’s actions on the bench cannot be rewarded with a Lifetime Achievement Award.