A school bus driver who plied a 14-year-old girl with alcohol and raped her in his home will not go to prison, prompting a public outcry and calls for the removal of the judge who meted out Shane Piche’s sentence.
Piche, who used to drive the girl to her school in Watertown, New York, pleaded guilty to third-degree rape, a charge stemming from the fact that the victim cannot consent to sex because he or she is underage, according to CBS News. The felony is punishable from anywhere between 16 months to four years in prison, but after a plea deal was stuck between Piche and prosecutors, Jefferson County Supreme Court Judge James McClusky sentenced the 26 year old to 10 years of sex offender probation.
Piche was also placed on the lowest level of New York’s sex offender registry, which means that he is considered at low risk of committing a similar crime and will not have his addresses made public, reports the New York Times.
Former school bus driver Shane Piche admitted to raping a 14-year-old girl. Judge James McClusky gave him no jail time. pic.twitter.com/xHCxscgCmM
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) May 2, 2019
The district attorney’s office had requested that Piche be assigned a level two designation on the registry, which would have required his future addresses be made public. But Judge McClusky said that he opted for the lower designation because Piche had no prior arrests and only one victim was involved in the plea, according to the Watertown Daily Times.
News of the sentencing has led to widespread outrage. The judge’s chambers have reportedly received a flood of angry calls, and nearly 60,000 people have signed a petition calling for McClusky’s removal. Susan Estrich, a professor at the University of Southern California’s law school, told the Times that the sentence is “outrageous” and effectively blamed the 14-year-old girl for her rape.
“This is back to the future,” Estrich said. “This is what we’ve been fighting against for 30 years.”
Speaking to WWNYTV, Piche’s lawyer, Eric Swartz, defended the sentence. “He’s on the sex offender registry for a long time,” Swartz said. “Maybe not the rest of his life because of the level but this isn’t something that didn’t cause him pain and this isn’t something that didn’t have consequences.”
But in a victim impact statement provided to the publication, the girl’s mother said she wished Piche had received jail time. “He took something from my daughter she will never get back,” the mother said, “and has caused her to struggle with depression and anxiety.”
Read more at CBS News.