Did victim’s race play a role in lenient sentence?
Yesterday we learned that the county superintendent of schools in Billings is a barely literate, racist, plagiarizing, Tea Party ignoramus, revealed to have plagiarized another author. He will likely be moving on.
Today, we have another Billings official who will soon be recalled.
He is a judge. His name is G. Todd Baugh and today he sentenced a 54-year-old male ex-teacher to only 30 days in prison, for having been in an ongoing sexual relationship with a 14-year-old female student who later committed suicide. Judge Baugh, in issuing the sentence, declared his belief that the girl was “older than her chronological age,” meaning, presumably, that even though she was going through puberty, she had a physically mature appearance. This distinction has no legal relevance at all. The issue is not what the young girl looked like but what the defendant did.
But the Billings Gazette made a fundamental error in its coverage of this story. It did not print the girl’s name or picture.
Why is this important?
She appears to have been a Latina. Her name was Cherice Moralez, and here is her photo.
Sentences usually seen in Montana for sex offenses like this one are in the dozens of years, with little chance for parole. In this case, perhaps the Judge decided that since the victim wasn’t quite white enough, that a lighter sentence was in order. I don’t know this to be the case, but I can’t come up with any other explanation.