This week’s Douchebag Decree goes to the judge who coined a new term in the ever-expanding shoulder-shrugging lexicon of “legitimate” rape: “beat-up rape.”
Montana Judge G. Todd Baugh handed down a 30-day sentence to a high-school teacher convicted of raping a 14-year-old student who then committed suicide. At the time of the sentencing, Judge Baugh spoke about the rape as if it wasn’t so bad. During the sentencing, he stated that victim Cherise Moralez was “older than her chronological age” and was “as much in control of the situation” as her teacher.
The judge’s comments fit into a long history of blaming young women—especially women of color—for sexual assault, painting them as fast or sexy Lolitas who “know just what they’re doing.” The comments sparked outrage for obvious reasons, as the victim’s mother, Auliea Hanlon, called out the judge for blaming the rape her daughter.
A protest against Judge Baugh’s victim-blaming comments in Billings this week. Credit: Billings Gazette.
Protests moved Judge Baugh to apologize in the local Billings Gazette. But in apologizing, he managed to just pile on the problems.
“Obviously, a 14-year-old can’t consent. I think that people have in mind that this was some violent, forcible, horrible rape,” he said. “It was horrible enough as it is just given her age, but it wasn’t this forcible beat-up rape.”
This language—that the rape wasn’t as bad because the victim was not beaten—undermines the apparently hard-to-understand concept that, as President Barack Obama noted, “Rape is rape.”
The 30-day sentence is more complicated than it sounds (the teacher was originally sentenced in a 2010 plea deal to a treatment program, then violated the terms of the program) but it’s clear that the judge did not take the crime seriously. His sentiments are dismissive and imply that some rapes are more worth proseucting than others.
Hundreds of people rallied in Billings today and yesterday to protest the Judge’s comments, but Hanlon summed up the issue most succinctly as she left the courtroom on the day of the sentencing, saying, “You people suck.”