BILLINGS, Mont. -- A Montana judge under fire for commenting that
a 14-year-old student rape victim appeared "older than her
chronological age" said Tuesday that he deserves to be censured but not
removed from the bench for the remarks.
District Judge G. Todd
Baugh told the Associated Press the comments violated judicial ethics
rules by failing to promote public confidence in the courts. But he
repeated his prior assertions that his comments did not factor into the
30-day sentence he handed down in the case, and said he has no plans to
"I shouldn't have said that ... I don't contest that
appearance of impropriety," he said during an interview in his Billings
office. "I don't think it's appropriate to be removed."
Baugh sent former teacher Stacey Rambold to prison in August for the rape of the student who later killed herself.
office of Montana Attorney General Tim Fox has appealed Rambold's
sentence as lenient and illegal, but the former Billings High School
business teacher remains free while the case is pending.
said he was told by a member of the state judicial ethics panel that he
would be recommended for censure by the Montana Supreme Court over his
comments. The claim could not be verified because the Montana Judicial
Standards Commission typically does not release information about
pending cases, said Shelly Nash, the commission's executive secretary.
Baugh declined to say which member of the five-person panel he had spoken with.
"I'm kind of a lightning rod on this and I don't want somebody collaterally damaged," he said.
state argued in a court documents filed Friday that Rambold should have
served a mandatory minimum of four years behind bars, and that an even
longer sentence of 20 years with 10 years suspended was justified.
had earlier said at least two years in prison was required. Yellowstone
County Attorney Scott Twito said Tuesday that attorneys for the state
decided to rely on a different section of state sentencing laws. He
added that he respected their decision.
"It's just confusing,"
Twito said. "The Supreme Court should provide some clarification on how
the statutes operate on cases such as this. That's been a struggle all