Meet the judge who suspended a child rapist's sentence because his victim was "older than her chronological age"

If what you say about the clear line were true, then no minors would ever be tried as adults.

I’m confused. Is the judge under the impression that this girl is some kind of time-traveller?


The judge has already backtracked on his idiotic statements. A protest has been arranged for today and a petition to have him resign is up. At the very least, he will not be re-elected in 2014 if anyone in the state of Montana has anything to say about this.


Sex with children is statutory rape even if they think they’re consenting.


Good point. I was thinking more about how much latitude the law permits the defendant to determine the victim’s maturity (none) and mistakenly extrapolating it to the judge. And it’s been pointed out to me that the state law does, in fact, permit the judge to do just such a thing.

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I admit that, given his time on the bench, yes, he probably does have quite a bit of experience with troubled youth, and with troubled people in general. The problem I have with his rationale is that he seems to be arguing that, because she was troubled, she was able to give consent.

Maybe I’m misreading what he’s said, but his statement that “it wasn’t this forcible beat-up rape” doesn’t sound like a very good rationale. Regarding that and other remarks about the girl he later admitted that he was “not sure just what I was attempting to say, but it did not come out correct.” And yet the reduced sentence still stands.

Well, if it wasn’t forcible, beat-up rape…

I think this applies here:

“If I have to listen to one more gray-faced man with a two-dollar hair cut explain to me what rape is, I’m gonna lose my mind.” - Tina Fey


Fine, move to Spain, France, or Japan where 14 is the age of consent age. Or go back 200+ years when it was common for a 13 year old to get married and have kids (actually it still is in many parts of the world). An example from fiction likely based on what was common at the time, Juliet of “Romeo and Juliet” is 13. Her mom is 26 meaning she had Juliet at 13 with a 3/4th chance of having conceived of her at 12.

The issue isn’t as black and white as you seem to think it is. What age is ok and what age is not is a decision made by societies, not some fact of nature.

One of my best friends’ sister looked way old for her age at 14. We took her to an airshow and some soldiers picked her up. Fortunately nothing happened but if they didn’t ask they wouldn’t have known and knowing her she wasn’t likely to have told them.

I have grave doubts about the judges grasp of humanity.
Here’s hoping for a single car fatal accident that ends in a fireball…

Sure, a teacher in his fifties raping his 14 year old student “isn’t as black and white as I seem to think it is” because European countries have more reasonable age of consent laws now, and in the past people sold their daughters at 13.


[update: I re-read the cnn article and changed the judge’s rationale for the light sentence]

I first read about this on In the article I read, it was more evident that the judge was making these points:

  • the girl was already troubled and the statutory rape was not the cause of her suicide
  • [Actually, this was the defense’s argument for leniency] the man had already been punished through the loss of his job, reputation, marriage, conviction as a sex offender, etc.
  • the judge seems to be saying that he was still upholding the original plea deal and stating that while the teacher had technically broken the rules of the deal, he had not broken them in any way that merits a willful disregard [edit: those are my words]

“He made some violations of his treatment program,” he said. “They were more technical and not the kind you would send someone to prison for.”

So, he’s not saying that 30 days is the punishment for this statutory rape. He’s saying it’s the punishment for not following all of the rules of the original deal with prosecutors. So, it was the prosecutors who gave him the light sentence, not the judge.

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.

  • this was not a simple case of guy grabs girl violently and rapes her. The two foolishly had a sexual affair that was both ill advised and illegal. She was “as much in control of the situation” as he was. I think that made a big difference to the judge (whether right or wrong). She wasn’t coerced into the affair. She was an active participant. That doesn’t make the teacher’s actions legal, but it does alter the perspective.

I’ve often wondered from a legal theory point-of-view: if a minor in full control of their mind and body initiates the sexual conduct, why can’t they be convicted of conspiracy? It’s only illegal to commit statutory rape if you’re the elder party, but surely it’s still illegal to conspire with another in the commission of a crime? I know that public pressure would never allow such charges to be filed, so this is just coffee talk.


It’s much easier to blame the victim when the victim is dead.

Having said that, I do dislike misleading headlines like the one on this BB post. The story, as reported, is much different than the one described by the headline.


I think the part you’re missing here is that this isn’t the original trial. In the original trial there was a plea agreement that the abuser would attend some sort of treatment program and be placed on probation for, I think, 15 years. This was a probation violation hearing, that happened because he was kicked out of the treatment program for not disclosing a sexual relationship with an adult woman to the councilors and for having contact with minor relatives. The actual ruling was that the reasons he was kicked out of the program weren’t serious enough to completely void the original plea agreement. The 31 days was punishment for the probation violation NOT for the original crime.

The judge has since apologized for his comments and claimed they don’t really reflect his beliefs. The real travesty here is the original agreement. But he’s still not quite getting off scott fee, as some have claimed. He’ll be on probation, which can have stringent conditions, and state supervision for years to come, and he’ll almost certainly be a convicted felon, and a probably a registered sex offender for the rest of his life, both of which come with significant loss of rights.


"The judge has since apologized for his comments and claimed they don’t really reflect his beliefs. "

I hate it when I say things that don’t reflect my beliefs. Stupid mouth!


So you’re saying if she was 18 this wouldn’t bother you? If so you’re just picking some arbitrary age. Other cultures pick different arbitrary ages.

Actually, the point of Romeo and Juliet is that marrying so early is a bad idea, even if Juliet’s mother also did it. Juliet’s father tries to dissuade Paris—whom he does hope will marry Juliet—from doing so quite so soon. People at the time, despite what is now commonly believed, did not get married until they were in their 20s. The notion that a 13 year old getting married wasn’t a terrible idea was introduced by Victorian literature critics, who needed to explain away the lusty thoughts in the play.

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Fine, move to Spain, France, or Japan where 14 is the age of consent

From wikipedia:

The age of consent in France is 15, as specified by Article
227-25…Article 227-27 prohibits sexual relations with minors over
age 15 (aged 15, 16 or 17)
" 1° where they are committed by a
legitimate, natural or adoptive ascendant or by any other person
having authority over the victim; 2° where they are committed by a
person abusing the authority conferred by his functions.


However in April 1999 the Japanese parliament wrote into law The Child
Welfare Act which changed the age of consent to 18 and the age of
majority to the age of 20. (The Child Welfare Act [1999] Articles 2
and 3 respectively) It also restated that the legal age of marriage to
be no less than 16 for females and 18 for males but only after
parental consent.

Spain is still pretty ick. The age of consent there is actually 13.

And Romeo is, IIRC, no older than 16. Not exactly a fair comparison. But besides that your example comes from a (simulacrum of a) period of history in which women were essentially property in many, perhaps most, respects and in which slavery and serfdom were not the least bit extraordinary. The past is a foreign country.

You apparently agree with the rest of us that some of these “decisions made by societies” are better than others:

Why “fortunately” if it’s just a completely arbitrary and senseless rule?

Note France’s law specifies statutory rape as applying to people from 15 to 17 who have a sexual relationship with someone older than them and in a position of authority over them – exactly as in this case. The man was in his 50’s and in a position of authority over the girl.

Which is not to say it’s impossible that this was “true love” and there wasn’t any element of coercion involved. However, the circumstances really do suggest otherwise. We expect 14 year olds to make bad, stupid decisions. I think what most of us hope is that adults in positions of authority over the children – ya know, parents, clergy, doctors, teachers – do their best to help children understand why such decisions are bad and stupid. I think very few of us hope that the adults in question – especially ones with 50+ years of “wisdom” under their belts – take advantage of those bad, stupid decisions for their personal gratification.

Where, exactly, the line is drawn is in some sense arbitrary, but that the line is drawn in the first place is not arbitrary. And the “where” is not completely arbitrary either unless you think 18 makes the same amount of sense as 8. (God I hope not.)

Incidentally I taught high school when I was 22 or 23 (forget which). You know what I didn’t do? Pursue a sexual relationship with any of the students at my school. Of course, a 23 dating an 18 year old is not illegal nor even particularly inappropriate. But even so a teacher dating a student is indeed inappropriate and I knew this in my early 20’s. This guy, with his extra 30 years, absolutely knew this and did what he did anyway – and not with an 18 year old but a 14 year old! The difference between the two, at least in our society, is not exactly arbitrary.

I have no problem with May/December romances but in context this seems like a very shitty situation. Anyone apologizing for the teacher or blaming the young woman is a scumbag in my book.


You do realise the phrase “statutory rape” means “rape only because of a law”? It’s another way of saying “it’s legally rape rather than actually rape”. And your statement is certainly false in many parts of the U.S., where there is no statute prohibiting all sex with children.

I think I might delete this from that page, as it’s not supported by the reference.

Age of majority as it relates to victims is a completely different thing to age of criminal responsibility as it relates to perpetrators. The first is based entirely around the child’s inexperience and ability to reason as compared to an adult, the last is based on a determination that the child’s crimes exceed the juvenile system’s reformative focus and require punitive actions in order to protect society.

They are not at all related.