Stop Justifying Rape and Don’t Reelect Men Who Do

In 2008, 14-year-old Cherice Morales was raped by her teacher, Stacey Dean Rambold, who was then 49. Prosecutors demanded that Rambold face ten years in prison for his action, but Judge Baugh disagreed. Judge Baugh gave Rambold 30 days. Thirty days for raping a 14-year-old girl several times, as well as getting kicked out of a sex offender program because he went against court orders and had unsupervised visits with minors. Are you disgusted yet? Get ready for this: Judge Baugh only gave Rambold thirty laughable days because he claimed Morales was more mature than her age and “just as in control of the relationship as the teacher.” Because 14-year-olds should be in control of relationships with their almost 50-year-old teachers. While the trial was ongoing, Cherice Morales committed suicide.

We all understand that this isn’t the only case where someone has justified rape or re-defined it in their own terms. “She was asking for it” or “Her promiscuous behavior attracted the wrong attention” are just a couple of the phrases used to make rape okay.  Rape is never okay. Ever.

This last January in California, an 18-year-old woman was raped by a young man who sneaked into her bed in the middle of the night and pretended to be her boyfriend. Since it was dark and the girl was not fully conscious, she had sex with him, not knowing this guy was not her boyfriend. The young woman pressed charges against Julio Morales, but the case was overturned due to a law made in 1872.

The law states: “[A] woman is unconscious of the nature of the act if she is unconscious or asleep or not aware that the act is occurring or not aware of the essential characteristics of the act because the perpetrator tricked, lied to, or concealed information from her.” So, if the woman is unconscious, she can’t possibly know that it’s rape, so it’s just not rape!

The only way, according to this archaic law, this situation would be concerned rape, is if the woman is married and unknowingly has sex with a man who disguises himself as her husband. Yes. I’m serious. We’re in the 21st century; cars can 108 miles per gallon, women are running for president, yet an absolutely ridiculous law made in 1872 justifies a girl getting raped. Actually, according to the law, she wasn’t raped because she wasn’t married when the guy sneaked in her bed and had sex with her without her consent. 

It seems to me that the court system is not delivering the proper consequences because they believe rape is not a serious enough crime. The judges excuse the acts when they simply cannot be excused. If it’s proven that a woman was molested or had non-consensual sex, then the perpetrator should be punished. Because if they’re not, a message is sent saying, “It’s okay to do this because the girl was an old soul,” or “Well, there’s this ancient rape law that exists that was clearly written by a sexist man who had one too many.”

What’s really terrible, is that we can’t just blame these sexual offenders. We must blame the legal system as well, the individuals with power that hand these sexual offenders Get Out of Jail Free cards. Judge Baugh will be running for his fifth term on the bench in Montana and he is running unopposed. By justifying the rape of a 14-year-old, this man clearly has no respect for women. He has been overseeing cases in Montana’s 13th Judicial District since 1986, and if he wins (which he probably will, sadly) he will serve another six year term.  I wonder how many more girls “wise beyond their years” will be overlooked and blamed.

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