Dear MoveOn.org and Judge Baugh protestors,
This letter is to extend my support to you, and NOW! chapter president Marian Bradley, and the rest of your colleagues and citizens in Montana as you bring public outrage to bear on Judge Todd Baugh. Indeed, when news came across the wire that Judge Baugh had handed Stacey Rambold a sentence of 15 years, then suspended all but 30 days because “it wasn’t all THAT bad,” I was disturbed at his cavalier attitude, especially in light of the suicide death of 17-year-old victim Cherice (14 at the time of the crime) in 2010 as the case worked its way through the judicial system.
I can imagine the cutting sensation felt by her family as the following words “she was as much in control of the situation [as her 49-year-old teacher]” worked like surgery with hedge shears, hold the anesthesia. You are properly exercising your right to petition your government for redress as you urge the governor and attorney general to review the policies and laws in place, specifically the latitude given to Montana judges in cases of sex with minors. Indeed, contrary to what you may have been told, we in the Men’s Human Rights Movement do not subscribe to a false binary/zero sum outlook on gender relations. When 50-year-old teachers in positions of trust are carnally coupling with students they are responsible for nourishing through knowledge, and get to skate, NOBODY wins.
As a show of solidarity, for myself and only myself, I signed the MoveOn.org petition. Mr. Rambold took advantage of what appears to have been an at-risk, troubled girl. That alone should be an aggravator, not a mitigator. By finding otherwise, Judge Baugh set a dumpster fire and evacuated the contents on her grave. For him, there is a special place in hell.
My request to you is not to relent in your vigor to see Judge Baugh removed and laws changed in Montana, but rather, to quicken your colleagues to take up similar causes against commensurate recent outrages that may have escaped your attention.
A good place to start is in California. Why, you ask. Because just this past month, San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Arthur Harrison sentenced teacher Laura Whitehurst to a year in prison and 5 years probation for her sexual exploitation of three different boys. She faced 41 felony counts and 29 years in prison.
One rationale for most pleas is that the victims would prefer to move on with their lives, and not go through a trial. However, according to Redlands Daily Facts newspaper, even one of Whitehurst’s victims pleaded for him to reject the plea, calling it unjust. A letter from the teen’s relative states his deteriorating social status and increasing withdrawal after relentless teasing that he is “not a victim.” A lawyer for one of the victims, Heather Cullen, opined that she only got the sentence because “they are boys and she is a woman.”
Just as recent was Judge Elizabeth Foley sentencing 37-year-old teacher Erin Sayar to 10 years probation for plying a 16-year-old boy with pot, and having sex with him.
What concerns me is that disproportionate outrage has more to do with the gender of the child and teacher, rather than the behavior of the judge. If so, why no invective heaped upon Judge Donna Gallucio, Justice Elizabeth Foley, or whomever sentenced Allena Ward to probation for sex with multiple 7th graders? I could go on and on, for the list is staggering of women who get mosquito bites for sex with students, and the trend continues unabated.
As a progressive myself, some questions come to mind as I view the current imbalance in the distribution of anger. Is the protest regarding Judge Baugh about the protection of children from exploitation, or is it about the relative elevated sanctity of girls? After all, society often excuses and dismisses the sexual aggression of female teachers toward boys with canards like “if he was erect, he must have wanted it.” To combat this rape apologia, I’m asking MoveOn.org, as a progressive organization that I’m certain favors the human rights of all children, to allow us to start a petition on your page to publicize the plight of sexually abused boys all around the country – boys who weekly watch their predatory manipulators walk free without incarceration, nor even the stain of sex offender public notification that tarnishes boys who may have had consensual sex. We will start with one to the San Bernardino Superior Court and District Attorney.
Thank you all in advance for your attention to these words, and your empathy with all victims of sexual exploitation by trusted adults.
Citizen, Blogger and AVFM contributor