Some years ago one of my guardian ad-Litem foster parents had to drive to Montana from Minnesota in her very old pickup truck for an unnecessary court hearing to make sure that her 2 and 12 year old foster children were not reunited with the man that had molested them. Semen samples were in evidence along with solid police reporting (and very young children are not good witnesses).

MN DHS was unable to help.  The trip and the courtroom were traumatizing for the mother and the children.  I’ve hated Montana courts since that happened.

Today’s account of a raped MT 5 year old and the judge’s “boys will be boys” comment makes me hate them more.

May 2013 Judge Todd Baugh of Billings vacated the 30 day sentence of the Montana teacher convicted of raping a 14 year old girl who went on to kill herself (below).

At the same time,  it appears that the state is unable to mount a decent effort to find foster parents that can allow abused and neglected children safe homes.  These sad facts go a long way in explaining why Montana ranks 49th in teen deaths, and 45th in child deaths according to Geography Matters, Child Well-Being In The States



Scout FinchFollowRSS

Daily Kos staff

WED APR 30, 2014 AT 09:07 AM PDT

Montana Supreme Court overturns 30‑day sentence for teacher who raped 14-year-old student

byJen HaydenFollow

Last fall a Montana judge made national news when he handed down an outrageously low 30-day sentence for a Montana teacher convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl, who then went on to commit suicide.

Outrage is growing against a Billings, Montana, judge who handed down a 30-day sentence to a rapist teacher and said the victim, who had killed herself, “was as much in control of the situation” as the teacher—35 years her senior at the time—because she was “older than her chronological age.” Prosecutors had sought a 20-year sentence in the case, with 10 years suspended. District Judge G. Todd Baugh imposed a 15-year sentence and suspended all but 31 days of it, with one day credited for time already served. The judge noted that the crime “did not warrant a lengthy sentence.”

Today, the Montana Supreme Court overturned the ruling and a more just sentence appears to be on the way:

The Montana Supreme Court has overturned a one-month prison sentence given to a former high school teacher convicted of raping a 14-year-old student.

Wednesday’s decision cited in part the actions of District Judge G. Todd Baugh (baw) of Billings, who suggested the young victim shared responsibility for her rape because she had some control over the situation.

Justices said a new judge must re-sentence defendant Stacey Dean Rambold.

In February, a judicial review board recommended disciplinary action against Judge G. Todd Baugh, but that action is still pending.



MT: Why kids from the Flathead end up out of the area in an emergency (Includes audio)
Montana Public Radio – February 07, 2014
Youth Dynamics is a non-profit organization operating across Montana. Katie Gerten works out of the Kalispell office licensing people to be foster parents. She said in the past six months she’s has about 20 children referred to her office to be placed in foster care that she had to turn down. She said it’s hard to find people up for becoming foster parents.

Why kids from the Flathead end up out of the area in an emergency


Flathead Reporter Katrin Frye talks with a local child welfare agency and a foster parent about Therapeutic Foster Care.


Kids with chaotic family situations, with behavior and mental health issues, as young as you can imagine, end up needing emergency housing. The need for foster families trained to help these kids is ever present.

Youth Dynamics is a non-profit organization operating across Montana. Katie Gerten works out of the Kalispell office licensing people to be foster parents. She said in the past six months she’s has about 20 children referred to her office to be placed in foster care that she had to turn down. She said it’s hard to find people up for becoming foster parents.

“The biggest thing that I hear is that people are afraid of having a child in their home, they don’t know how it’s going to work out with their family, or the biggest one is; I’m not ready yet,” Gerten said.

Youth Dynamics specializes in Therapeutic Foster Care.  Therapeutic Foster Care, or TFC, also involves therapy, support aids for caregivers, medication management, and respite services for parents and caregivers. Children will generally get involved with Youth Dynamics through referral, sometimes from a state agency like Child Protective Services. They will also get involved as a sort of stepping stone coming out of a shelter or group home.

Gerten says often a child needs the special care, but it isn’t available for them. She says this isn’t unique to Youth Dynamics, all the child welfare agencies spend time scrambling to find placements for kids.

“I used to work as a case manager here, as well as licensing coordinator, and it broke my heart to have to refer kids to shelters, or just have to turn down placement for kids coming out of group homes, and they really had nowhere to go,” Gerten said sometimes there’s an issue with kids or teens who are in trouble for sexual assault. She says oftentimes these cases stem from abuse that child received. Sometimes the child has mental health issues, and needs to learn basic coping skills.

“We let parents look at their records before they take on the child, because we want the placement to work. We want them to know what they’re getting into. But if you look at a child’s progress notes, their treatment plan, you’re looking at all the problems of that child. We don’t document positive things in an incident report, we just don’t, and, it can be scary,” Gerten said.

Foster parent Carla Hunt has been involved with Youth Dynamics since last spring. Hunt also has a son, just about to enter his teenaged years. She said there’s always a nervousness before a child comes into her home.

“I get a little nervous because I don’t know how they’re going to react, and how they’re going to get along with everybody in the house. But, usually… it always ends up OK, but getting to know new kids, and trying to figure out what they like to do, and they don’t like to do, and if they’re going to get along with my son,” Hunt said.

She said it’s a little different approach with setting rules for foster kids, than for her own.

“You have to treat them, I don’t know- softer – than your own kid, because they’ve been through a lot, and your kid has more structure and has had a, you know, a better environment to live in, and these kids haven’t. So, you have to be lenient, but you have to be firm,” Hunt said she got involved because she saw an ad in the paper asking for people to help with respite care.

She did the training, and then did more training to become a foster parent.

“There’s horror stories to everything, and there’s happy endings too. You have to jump in and try and see if you can help one of these kids. That’s why my husband and I got involved, to see if we could help children who don’t have stable environments,” Hunt said.

Gerten said there are 17 hours of training involved with respite care, and 30 for foster care. There’s also a criminal history check through fingerprinting, a child and family services check, department of motor vehicles check, employment, and they also look at other life issues like have had, or lost a child recently.

However, she said if something happened in your past, that doesn’t necessarily exclude you, she said they’re not looking for “perfect” people, rather people who can provide a safe home.

“A lot of these kids come from pretty unstable, horrific environments. Your home is going to be wonderful to them, I guarantee it!” Gerten said.

Some of the other foster care options in the Flathead include through the local branch of Intermountain Children’s Home, and the state. Gerten said if there’s no placement for a child, they’ll go to a shelter or group home, and lots of the time that’s at Watson’s Children’s Shelter in Missoula, Shodair Children’s Hospital in Helena, or Acadia in Butte.

Gerten said she currently has 8 foster parents on her list, and she’s in the process of licensing 3 right now. She said she’d feel comfortable if she had 40 homes on her list in the Flathead.

Statewide the statistic is that about 3,000 kids will enter the foster care system each year. That’s new children going into the system, just in Montana.


Montana county attorney’s office to mother of 5-year-old rape victim: ‘Boys will be boys’

By Scott Kaufman
Sunday, February 16, 2014 11:04 EST

The Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a letter on Friday to the Missoula County Attorney’s Office in Montana detailing a “disturbing pattern of deficiencies” in how rape cases are handled.

According to the DOJ, county attorneys routinely behaved inappropriately when dealing with the victims of sexual assault. One deputy county attorney allegedly quoted religious passages to a woman, which made her feel like she was being judged.

The mother of a 5-year-old girl who had been raped by an adolescent boy claimed that county attorneys told her that the her daughter’s assailant only received two years of community service because “boys will be boys.”


Another woman said that her experience dealing with county attorneys convinced her that she “would never suggest that another woman pursue a sexual assault prosecution in Missoula.”

The DOJ also claimed that the county “almost never solicits the involvement of the crime victim advocate office with its complaining witnesses in cases of sexual assault.”

County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburgdescribed the allegations as “unbelievable.”

“These are things I have never even heard of,” he said. “It is impossible to believe these things are true. This is not how the Missoula County Attorney’s Office conducts itself. These are half-truths, mistruths and maybe even outright lies.”

The DOJ’s report found Van Valkenburg’s statement that his office investigates sexual assaults “in its spare time” particularly galling. “While you have subsequently attempted to explain that by ‘spare time’ you were referring to the ‘additional time’ after other courtroom and litigation functions have been completed,” the report asserted, “the statement seems inconsistent with the diligent investigation and prosecution of sexual abuse.”

Van Valkenburg insisted that the DOJ is just “playing politics,” noting that his office filed a motion on Wednesday asking a U.S. District Court judge to decide whether the DOJ even has jurisdiction over his office. “First and foremost, I think that this is one of the most unfair, unethical things that I have witnessed in 35 years of public life,” Van Valkenburg said.

“For the DOJ to dump this report on the news media at virtually 5 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, three days after we have filed a complaint for judicial relief, is totally irresponsible. Nothing in this report in any way responds to the legal arguments that we have made, in terms of their lack of jurisdiction.”

“They are trying to manipulate the news in a very, very unfair fashion,” he concluded.

Watch an ABC Fox Montana report on the case below.




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