Hundreds of protesters are expected to converge at the Billings, Montana, county courthouse Thursday, to express their outrage over what they call a lenient sentence for a man who admitted raping a 14-year-old girl.
The protest, organized in part by the National Organization for Women, will call for Yellowstone County District Judge G. Todd Baugh to step down.
The mother of the victim is outraged that a high school teacher who admitted raping her daughter received only a month in prison, while her daughter later took her own life.
As the calls for an appeal grow, the Montana attorney general’s office is reviewing the case.
The sentence was a travesty, the mother, Auliea Hanlon, told CNN on Wednesday night, two days after the sentencing.
“I was horrified. Horrified,” she said. “He broke the law, he confessed, and he got to walk away.”
Hanlon said she was particularly upset that Baugh, said her daughter “seemed older than her chronological age” and was “as much in control of the situation” as the teacher.
Baugh apologized on Wednesday.
“I made some references to the victim’s age and control,” he told CNN affiliate KTVQ. “I’m not sure just what I was attempting to say at that point, but it didn’t come out correct. What I said was demeaning to all women, not what I believe in and irrelevant to the sentencing.”
About the sentencing itself, Baugh said he would file an addendum to the case file to “better explain” his rationale.
The case began in 2008 when the teen was a student at Billings Senior High School and Stacey Dean Rambold was a teacher. She was 14 at the time; he was 49.
Hanlon claims Rambold’s “pre-sexual grooming” of her daughter led to the pair having sex.
School officials learned of the relationship, and Rambold resigned.
Later that year, authorities charged Rambold with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent.
“It’s not probably the kind of rape most people think about,” Baugh said. “It was not a violent, forcible, beat-the-victim rape, like you see in the movies. But it was nonetheless a rape. It was a troubled young girl, and he was a teacher. And this should not have occurred.”
As the case wound its way through the legal system, the girl committed suicide. She was a few weeks shy of her 17th birthday.
“As a result of the sexual assault and its aftermath, (the teen) experienced severe emotional distress, humiliation and embarrassment and fell into irreversible depression that tragically led to her taking her own life on February 6, 2010,” Hanlon said in a complaint filed against Rambold.
Hanlon told CNN the relationship was to blame for her daughter’s death.
“Well it definitely had something to do with it,” she said. “A teenager’s whole life is about school and their friends, and he turned everyone against her.”
With the teen’s death, the prosecution entered into what is known as a “deferred prosecution agreement” with Rambold.
This meant that all charges against Rambold would be dismissed if he completed a sex offender treatment program and met other requirements. One of them was to have no contact with children.