Light sentence for rape of 14 year old sparks protest

Cherice Moralez, who was 14 at the time her high school teacher had sex with her, isn’t able to react to a Montana judge who sentenced the teacher to only 30 days in jail because the girl “was older than her years.” She killed herself shortly before her 17th birthday when the case became a criminal case.

Under state law, children younger than 16 cannot consent to sexual intercourse.

“I don’t care if she dressed provocatively. She was a 14-year-old and he was in a position of power,” Sheena Rice, who’s organizing a protest tomorrow, told the Billings Gazette.

“I think that people have in mind that this was some violent, forcible, horrible rape,” the judge told the newspaper. “It was horrible enough as it is just given her age, but it wasn’t this forcible beat-up rape.”

This afternoon, the judge apologized for the remarks, but not the sentence. “What I said is demeaning of all women, not what I believe and irrelevant to the sentencing,” Baugh said in a letter to the editor of the newspaper. “My apologies to all my fellow citizens.”

It’s not an unusual sentence by Minnesota standards given similar situations.

In one similar case, an Elk River teacher got five years probation for having sex with a student. He was convicted of criminal sexual behavior, but in that case, the student was 17, and testified about their affair.

In 2011, a Cretin-Derham Hall teacher avoided a jail term when she was convicted of having sex with a 16 year old.

In 2009, a Sleepy Eye teacher got six months in jail for having sex with a 16-year-old.

But in one of the more infamous cases, a Hastings teacher got a seven-year prison sentence for a three-month affair with a 15 year old.