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Montana judge behind lenient rape sentence sparks new outrage (+video)

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(Read caption) Montana protests 30-day rape sentence
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[Updated Friday 3:40 EDT.]

A Montana judge has sparked outrage once again – this time for what attorneys on both sides say was an improper attempt to backtrack on a lenient rape sentence, one that led to pressure from around the world for the judge to resign.

District Judge G. Todd Baugh planned a resentencing hearing for Friday afternoon, saying his original 30-day prison sentence of teacher Stacey Rambold for raping a 14-year-old was incorrect and the case instead requires a minimum of two years. (Technically the sentence was for 15 years, suspended except for 31 days, with credit for one day served.)

The Montana Attorney General’s office sought to block the hearing, saying only the Montana Supreme Court has the authority to fix sentencing mistakes and the hearing would interfere with the appeal the office is filing. Defense attorney Jay Lansing agreed in a court briefing that a Friday hearing by Baugh would create confusion.

The high court on Friday afternoon blocked the hearing and ordered Judge Baugh to enter a written sentencing for Mr. Rambold. Baugh never signed a written sentencing order after making his oral pronouncement in the case.

When Baugh delivered the original sentence Aug. 26, he said the victim was “older than her chronological age” and “as much in control of the situation” as Rambold, who was in his late-40s at the time.

Baugh’s comments brought protesters out onto the streets in Billings by the hundreds and have led to more than 56,000 signatures online from people calling for his resignation.

Baugh apologized last week for his comments about the victim in a letter to the editor of the Billings Gazette.

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