A New York man was sentenced to 10 years probation but no prison time after pleading guilty to raping a 14-year-old girl he met while driving a school bus. The judge in the case defended his controversial ruling by pointing out that Piche had only raped one girl, rather than multiple.
Shane Piche reportedly met the victim through his job as a school bus driver in Watertown City School District in upstate New York last year. Piche, who is either 25 or 26 years old according to conflictingreports, raped the 14-year-old student at his home in June 2018 and was later arrested in September.
Piche was initially charged with second-degree rape, first-degree unlawfully dealing with a child and endangering the welfare of a child by providing alcohol to the victim before the assault, according to Watertown Daily Times. The victim’s mother told local news station WWNY in February that Piche “bought her daughter gifts and invited her and other minors to his home where he gave them alcohol.”
Piche, who is no longer employed by the Watertown City school district, pled guilty to the lesser charge of third-degree rape in February. He was expected to be designated a Level 2 sex offender, which according to the state means there is a “medium risk of re-offense.” As a Level 2 offender, Piche’s address would have been available to the public.
Last week, Piche was sentenced to 10 years probation and designated a Level 1 sex offender by Judge James P. McClusky. Level 1 sex offenders are the lowest risk designation on the registry, and their addresses are not available to the public.
McClusky justified the ruling by saying that Piche had no prior arrests and there was only one victim in the case, according to the Watertown Daily Times. Piche will have to pay fines including $375 in court fees and $1,000 in sex offender registration fees. He is also not allowed to be alone with anyone under 17 years old.
“I wish Shane Piche would have received time in jail for the harm he caused to my child,” the victim’s mother said in an impact statement, according to WWNY. “He took something from my daughter she will never get back and has caused her to struggle with depression and anxiety.”
Piche’s defense attorney Eric Swartz told the New York Daily News that his client will be a felon “for the rest of his life,” adding, “He’s on the sex offender registry for a long time. 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.”
A petition to recall McClusky had nearly 4,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning.
“This judge has NO problem letting rapists go when a young girl’s life has been forever changed and will cause her emotional problems for many years to come at a cost of thousands of dollars for therapy,” the petition reads. “Where’s her justice?”
People were up in arms about the controversial ruling, with many pointing to racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
Shane Piche, white, admitted to raping a 14 yr old girl. He will do NO jail time.— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) April 29, 2019
16 yr old Kaleif Browder, African American, spent 3 yrs on Rikers Island awaiting trial on an accusation that he stole a backpack. Much of the time was spent in solitary confinement. https://t.co/x6cDI01HJr
This is crazy. I would love to reach out to this little girl with some words of support and encouragement. If anyone knows how to reach the family, please let me know. https://t.co/zcP76S3k5j— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) April 29, 2019
This man Shane Piche raped a 14 year old girl on her bus route & the judge gave him ZERO JAIL TIME.— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@QasimRashid) April 28, 2019
•Crystal Mason got 5 years for accidentally voting
•Patrick Beadle got 8 years for medicinal pot
This is white supremacy in our CJ system. Horrific.https://t.co/1T1gZ720MOpic.twitter.com/mhfblq4O5t
I don't know who needs to hear this but YOUNG WHITE GUYS GET ONE FREE RAPE is an indefensible judicial stance. https://t.co/UOQFwjtK7h— andi zeisler (@andizeisler) April 29, 2019
No jail time for school bus driver who admitted to raping 14-year-old— Yashar Ali (@yashar) April 29, 2019
The 26-year-old will also not be included in online sex offender databases because he is considered a low risk offender. https://t.co/whxsC4YigO
Shane Piche r*ped a 14 year old girl and judge James P. McClusky gave him no jail time because there was only one victim and no prior arrests. Spread his face and know his name. This is bullshit. pic.twitter.com/F4iNyH6dWy— mal ️ (@alrightmallorie) April 28, 2019
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.