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Mont. judge apologizes for comments in teen’s rape

BILLINGS, Mont. — A Montana judge apologized Wednesday for saying a 14-year-old rape victim was ‘‘older than her chronological age’’ and had as much control of the situation as the teacher who raped her — remarks that prompted protests and a petition for his resignation.

District Judge G. Todd Baugh made the comments Monday while sentencing former Billings Senior High School teacher Stacey Rambold to a 15-year prison sentence then suspending all but 31 days and giving him credit for one day already served.

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Yellowstone County officials previously agreed to defer Rambold’s prosecution for three years and dismiss the charges if he completed a sexual offender treatment program. The case was revived in December after prosecutors learned Rambold, 54, was kicked out of the program for having unsupervised visits with minors who were family members and not telling counselors he was having a sexual relationship with a woman.

Defense attorney Jay Lansing said Rambold has continued his treatment with a different program and was found at low risk to re-offend.

The judge said he wasn’t convinced that the reasons for Rambold’s exit from the program were serious enough to warrant the 10-year term recommended by prosecutors.

Faced with backlash , Baugh wrote an apology in a brief letter to the editor of The Billings Gazette.

‘‘I’m not sure just what I was attempting to say but it did not come out correct,’’ he wrote. ‘‘What I said is demeaning of all women, not what I believe and irrelevant to the sentencing. My apologies to all my fellow citizens.’’

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