Sometimes you read about a crime that goes unpunished or underpunished, and you shrug your shoulders, “well…that’s our flawed justice system.” Then, there are times you read about a crime that goes unpunished or underpunished, and you want to go full DRACARYS on said flawed system. Yesterday was the latter. (If you don’t know what Dracarys means, you’re missing out of one of the biggest pop culture events of our time, and I really don’t know what to tell you about that.)
The headline of a New York Times article last week reads: “School Bus Driver Who Raped 14-Year-Old Will Not Go to Prison.” Any normal, rational, human being with reading capabilities and analytical reasoning skills beyond a third-grade level would see this and probably think, “Clearly, there HAS to be more to the story.” Reading past the byline, you are greeted with the words: “Shane Piche raped a girl who rode his bus in upstate New York.” If you then dared to investigate how this twenty-six-year-old man raped a child, twelve years his junior, entrusted to his care every day of the school year, the details might evoke nausea.
Piche apparently planned this crime, giving the child gifts and pumping her underage body full of liquor before taking her to his house and raping her. After his arrest, he pleaded guilty to rape in the third degree. You might then say “So…this was premeditated, and more than one crime was committed. Plus, he pleaded guilty—he should be UNDER the jail, right? That “Will *Not* Go to Prison” has gotta be a typo in the headline. DO BETTER failing New York Times!!”
Piche was only sentenced to PROBATION and a stint on the sex offender registry at the LOWEST LEVEL, level one. Meaning he will not be included in online sex offender databases, nor will anyone be able to set up a relocation alert on him. So basically, if he moves to your town, you won’t know he’s there nor will you be able to research his sex offender history online. Hide your kids, hide your wife—because she might kill him if he touches her kids, and probation probably won’t be an option.
The judge at the center of this ridiculously lenient sentence, James P. McClusky, gives no legitimate insight as to why he was so compassionate, save the fact that Piche has never been arrested for this before (mind you, 3 out of every 4 rapes go unreported), and there was only one victim (lucky for Shane he wasn’t trying to get some group action going with the other 9th graders, eh?). Prosecutors argued for rape in the second degree and a level 2 sex offender designation, which would have at least put him in the database for maximum accessibility. But McClusky feels that all Shane needs is probation.
For raping a 14-year-old girl.
Shane’s lawyer, Eric Schwartz agrees of course, stating “Getting him onto probation to get sex-offender treatment, our hope is that we can teach him better ways to deal with these issues and maybe educate him about making better choices in the future, as well as keeping him from having access to children at this point which is part of what the probationary period will do.” WUT?!?! They don’t necessarily want him punished for the CRIME he committed and pleaded guilty to—they just want him to make “better choices.” Oh.
Shane choosing water over soda is a better choice. Shane choosing grilled foods over fried ones is a better choice. Shane choosing to purchase stock IN Starbucks instead of frappuccinos FROM Starbucks is a better choice. But Shane choosing to have sex with ADULTS INSTEAD OF MINORS IS A NECESSARY CHOICE. Shane being given probation after raping a 14-year-old girl is not a good, better, nor best choice. It is an irresponsible, inexplicable, and insensitive choice. It ranks the worth of the criminal much higher than the worth of the victim. It robs the victim and her family of justice.
If Shane were not white, would McClusky have been so charitable? If Shane had raped a little 14-year-old boy, would his crime be thought of as one he has a “low risk of repeating”? Where are we as a society when a 14-year-old girl being taken advantage of sexually is considered LESS PUNISHABLE BY LAW than when Black and Brown people are caught in possession of marijuana for personal use? No, seriously—people are sentenced more harshly for weed than people who RAPE CHILDREN.
Even though the recommended sentencing for a sexual offense class E felony are 1.5-4 years in prison, McClusky chose probation for Shane. The guidelines for probation are as follows: “…the court may sentence a person to a period of probation upon conviction of any crime if the court, having regard to the nature and circumstances of the crime and to the history, character, and condition of the defendant, is of the opinion that:
(i) Institutional confinement for the term authorized by law of the defendant is or may not be necessary for the protection of the public;
(ii) the defendant is in need of guidance, training or other assistance which, in his case, can be effectively administered through probation supervision; and (iii) such disposition is not inconsistent with the ends of justice.
There is currently a MoveOn petition to recall McClusky. If you are outraged by the injustice of this case, feel free to click here and sign it.