Butte protesters call for resignation of Billings judge
SILVER BOW COUNTY
"Rape is rape is rape, and the perpetrators need to be held accountable," said Michael Andersen, a Butte attorney.
Andersen spoke at a protest outside the courthouse Friday in response to the recent rape case in Billings that has sparked national attention.
Earlier this week, Judge G. Todd Baugh said the 14 year-old rape victim was "older than her chronological age" and as much in control of the situation as the perpetrator. Judge Baugh has since apologized for his statements, but has not reconsidered his ruling, a fifteen year sentence with all but 30 days suspended.
"I'm not sure just what I was attempting to say at that point, but it didn't come out correct...I owe all of our fellow citizens an apology," said Judge Baugh in a statement earlier this week.
The victim's mother says she's lost faith in the judiciary system, and the ruling will affect other victims as well.
"It discourages other kids to come forward," said Auliea Hanlon, the mother. "If they come forward, what's going to happen...nothing."
Back in Butte, these residents took to the streets in support of the victim's mother, holding signs saying things like: "rape is rape," "stop blaming victims," and "what if it was your child?"
The protestors outside the Butte-Silver Bow courthouse were there for three reasons: to ask Judge Baugh to resign, to raise awareness about rape cases and victim blaming, and to come together as Montanans.
"We really wanted to stress that victims are not to blame for this," said Butte Commissioner Bill Andersen, who organized the event.
"We're kindly asking Judge Baugh to resign," he said, "if this is how he is going to handle violence towards women and violence towards children."
We asked him why it was important to hold a protest in Butte.
"This many people for an event that happened 400 miles away," he explained, "it really stresses how close this is to all our of hearts."
And his brother Michael Andersen said, "I don't want the world to think that we Montanans were represented by this statement. This is not who we are and what we believe as Montanans, and this is not what we believe as the legal community in Montana."
Michael also told NBC Montana in his experience with a similar sexual offender case, a Butte judge gave the perpetrator a 15 year sentence in Montana State Prison.