News & Politics

Judge Who Said Rape Victim Was 'In Control' Sentences Abusive Boyfriend to Write 'Boys Don't Hit Girls'

Montana judge has a history of leniency for crimes against women.

Photo Credit: Yellowstone County Jail

Montana District Judge G. Todd Baugh’s controversial remarks about a 14-year-old rape victim inspired a national petition and protests when he suspended the rapist’s jail sentence in August to a mere 30 days. This week, in a different case, Judge Baugh required an abusive boyfriend to write “Boys do not hit girls,” 5,000 times, in addition to a six-month jail sentence.

Pacer Ferguson, the man forced to write “boys do not hit girls,” had punched his girlfriend during a 2012 argument, fracturing her face in three places that still cause her occasional pain. According to the Billings Gazette, Baugh sentenced the man to the maximum time allowed for his misdemeanor assault and he must also pay the victim’s medical bills. While a jury acquitted Ferguson of more serious charges that would have led to a longer sentence, he will spend eight years in state prison serving a concurrent sentence for a robbery.

Before this case, Baugh had sentenced a former teacher for raping a 14-year-old who committed suicide before the trial. When Baugh delivered the sentence that reduced the man’s possible 20-years in jail to one month, he determined the victim was “older than her chronological age” and was “as much in control of the situation” as the teacher. The remarks sparked outrage calling for Baugh’s removal. Insisting that his remarks may have been inappropriate but the sentence was not, Baugh apologized, “What I said is demeaning of all women, not what I believe and irrelevant to the sentencing.”

Alabama has seen a similar situation play out, with a county judge giving a man convicted of raping a teen three times to probation and zero prison time. Public outrage drove the judge to reconsider the sentence. However, he returned with what’s arguably an even lighter sentence.

Rebecca Leber is a research assistant for the ThinkProgress war room. She graduated from the University of Rochester and holds a B.A. in political science and English with a minor in economics.

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