Man Who Raped 14-Year-Old Will Not Go to Prison—Gets 10 Years Probation Instead
Watertown, NY school bus driver Shane Piche—despite being found guilty of third-degree rape earlier this year—was sentenced to 10 years of probation instead of jail. The details of this case are incredibly upsetting, and despite not being explicit, I just want to warn you that this does deal with the rape and coercion of a minor.
The twenty-six-year-old man pleaded guilty to third-degree rape earlier this year. According to the New York Times, last summer Piche took advantage of a young girl who he was a school bus driver for, and “having plied her with gifts and alcohol, he invited the 14-year-old to his home and raped her.”
In addition to probation, he was also assigned the lowest-level status on New York’s sex offender registry. Level 1 status is reserved for offenders with a low risk of committing another similar crime, and therefore his future addresses will not be made public.
Justice James P. McClusky, who was in charge of making the decision, chose to make Piche’s designation Level 1 because, according to Watertown Daily Times, “Piche had no prior arrests and there was only one victim in this plea, Level 1 was more appropriate” despite the district attorney requesting otherwise.
Piche’s attorney, Eric T. Swartz, “felt good” about the sentence and confirmed that Piche no longer works at the bus company as a result of the incident, which is the bare damn minimum, I’d imagine. Three “no contact” protection orders were issued against Piche, and he is not permitted to be alone with anyone young than 17 years old, but there were exceptions approved. He has to pay $375 in court fees and surcharges and a $1,000 special sex offender registration fee.
Swartz also told WWNY, a Watertown-area television station, that “He’ll be a felon for the rest of his life. 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.”
Oh, it caused him pain? It caused him pain to be a rapist and now have to pay fees and be on probation? If only he had decided not to rape a 14-year-old girl, that would have really fixed things, wouldn’t it.
The victim’s mother also made a statement, saying that Piche “took something from my daughter she will never get back and has caused her to struggle with depression and anxiety.” She also implied back in February when she first made a statement against Piche, that he “bought her daughter gifts and invited her and other minors to his home, where he gave them alcohol.”
Much like in the Brock Turner incident, there are calls for the judge to be recalled.
While we talk about prison reform and trying to find ways to protect the public and allow people who have served their time to move forward if they are truly rehabilitated, we need to really ask ourselves why a grown man who raped a girl, who he had established a relationship with through being her bus driver, is able to only get probation and all of these protections. But men who have been convicted for non-violent drug offenses get caught up in three-strike and “tough on crime” laws that keep them constantly in prison.
Of course, we often do want judges to be lenient on first time offenders, especially of non-violent drug offenses, but there is simply no excuse to say that because it’s someone’s first time raping a child, that they should only get the lightest sentence possible. That is unacceptable in every way.
(via New York Times, image: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
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