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Montana judge tells fast-food worker to get a 'real job'

By Laura Zuckerman

(Reuters) - A Montana judge facing censure for suggesting a teenage girl was partly to blame for being raped by a teacher came under scrutiny again after he asked a man convicted of vandalism why he didn’t get a “real job” instead of working at a fast-food chain.

The exchange, reported on Monday by the Billings Gazette, is the latest to raise questions about the courtroom commentary of state District Judge G. Todd Baugh, who faces a public reprimand next month by the Montana Supreme Court for violating judicial standards in the rape case.

Baugh sparked public outrage last year when he said the victim in that case, a 14-year-old girl who committed suicide before the case could be prosecuted, had been “as much in control of the situation” as the teacher who raped her.

Baugh is due to appear before state justices next month to be censured, and has until June 30 to protest the action. The sentence he imposed in the rape case has also been overturned as unlawfully lenient.

The more recent controversy involved a Billings man convicted on vandalism charges. At sentencing on Monday, Baugh asked what efforts Brandon Turell, 21, had made to pay restitution to victims, the Billings Gazette reported.

Turell said he had been working at Burger King, prompting the judge to ask, “Why can’t you get a real job?” according to the Gazette.

Baugh did not respond to a request for comment, but Yellowstone County prosecutors confirmed the newspaper account.

Turell was sentenced to 10 years in state custody, five of them suspended, for a felony count of criminal mischief, an arrangement that might allow him to continue to work while living under state supervision.

He was also sentenced to six months in jail with all but 10 days suspended for misdemeanor drunk driving and ordered to pay $13,640 in restitution to victims of the 2012 vandalism spree, according to the state corrections office.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Jonathan Oatis)

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