But District Judge G. Todd Baugh acknowledged his remarks, coupled with the public furor over the lenient sentence, violated judicial ethics rules.
deserves to be censured for failing to promote confidence in the courts and for not avoiding the appearance of impropriety.
Besides the comment about the victim's age, Baugh
said at the sentencing hearing for her
rapist that she
"was probably as much in control of the situation as was the defendant.
"I can understand the appearance of impropriety, but I wasn't trying to blame the victim," he
said during an interview with The Associated Press
chambers at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings.
"I don't think it's appropriate to be removed."
sentenced Stacey Rambold in August for the 2007 rape of high school freshman Cherice Moralez.
In a Nov. 13 letter from Baugh
to the Judicial Standards Commission
, the judge defended the sentence despite his
earlier acknowledgements that it appeared to be illegal.
description of the sentence as "fair" in the letter referred to the full 15-year-term, most of which he
also said Tuesday that a member of the state judicial ethics panel told him in October that he
would be recommended for censure by the state Supreme Court over his
Baugh declined to say which member of the five-person panel he had spoken with.
"I'm kind of a lightning rod on this and I don't want somebody collaterally damaged," he