BILLINGS, Mont. — The mother of a 14-year-old rape victim said a Montana judge was "covering his butt" after he apologized for saying her daughter was "older than her chronological age," as prosecutors said Thursday that the judge may have erred in giving the rapist only 30 days in prison.
The comments from District Judge G. Todd Baugh in a case involving a teacher raping a student have drawn widespread condemnation from across the country.
The 71-year-old judge attempted to quiet the firestorm with his Wednesday apology, but calls for his resignation resounded during a Thursday rally on the lawn of the Yellowstone County Courthouse.
The victim's mother Auliea Hanlon rejected Baugh's apology because he has continued to stand by his decision to give a relatively light sentence to former Billings Senior High School teacher Stacey Rambold.
"He's just covering his butt. He wouldn't have said anything if people hadn't spoken up," Hanlon told an Associated Press reporter. "He didn't reverse his decision, so it's irrelevant."
Hanlon's daughter, Cherice Moralez, killed herself before Rambold's case came to trial.
Billings Public Schools Superintendent Terry Bouck has described Rambold's actions with Moralez in 2007 as "repugnant." He said the months-long relationship between teacher and student was grossly inappropriate.
A legal review of Monday's sentencing suggests Rambold may have gotten off too easily.
That review determined that if Baugh had applied the proper section of state law, the defendant would have received a minimum of two years in prison, according to a memo sent by Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito to the appellate division of the state Attorney General's Office.
Prosecutors originally sought a 20-year sentence with 10 years suspended. Baugh's sentence ordered Rambold to serve 15 years, with all but 31 days suspended and a one day credit for time already served.
The state has 20 days to appeal the sentence. Twito said he's working with the appellate division to decide whether to take that step.