WASHINGTON – The National Organization for Women (NOW) is encouraged by the decision of the Montana Supreme Court in the Stacy Rambold case to overturn Rambold’s outrageously lenient sentence. This outcome was greatly influenced by the work of Montana NOW and Pennsylvania NOW.
Stacy Rambold, then a teacher, was convicted of raping his 14 year-old student, Cheris Morales; the judge in the case, G. Todd Baugh, suspended Rambold’s sentence of 15 years in prison to all but the 31 days Rambold had already served. Judge Baugh claimed Morales, who had since committed suicide, was “as much in control of the situation” as her rapist and that she was “older than her chronological age.”
In response, Montana NOW and Pennsylvania NOW in conjunction with UltraViolet started a massive online campaign to raise awareness about this horrific case. The two chapters spearheaded an amicus curiae brief along with Legal Voice, Women’s Law Project, Legal Momentum, and the Sexual Violence Law Center, urging that a different judge take up the case; the Montana Supreme Court accepted that recommendation, as well as others made in the brief.
NOW President Terry O’Neill applauds the work of NOW chapters on this case. “Montana NOW and Pennsylvania NOW have been on the frontlines in a case that is a snapshot of rape culture in action in the United States. The Court’s ruling shows that grassroots organizing can make all the difference. Once again, local NOW activists have gone above and beyond to make real change in their communities.”