Sexual Assault Survivors Call for Dismissal of Judge Who Didn’t Send Convicted Child Rapist to Prison

May 9, 2019 Updated: May 9, 2019

Sexual assault survivors have spoken out after an Upstate New York man wasn’t sentenced to prison for raping a 14-year-old girl.

Shane Piche, a former school bus driver, was sentenced to 10 years of probation by Jefferson County Supreme Court Judge James McClusky in late April, according to reports. He will also have to register as a Level 1 sex offender, which is the lowest designation, according to local reports.

The 26-year-old pleaded guilty earlier in 2019 after he was accused of assaulting the girl at his Watertown home.

A number of groups, however, have spoken out about his sentencing.

“No one should have to go through an entire court case just to be told that their assault didn’t matter, but that’s what Judge McClusky said,” UltraViolet, a women’s advocacy group, said in a letter to the New York Commission, asking to remove McClusky, the New York Daily News reported.

Several petitions have also have been circulated online, with more than 100,000 people signing them.

State court spokesperson Lucian Chalfen, however, stated that McClusky has received thousands of calls, threats, and emails from people “who have no understanding and know nothing about the facts and circumstances of the case, thanks to social media.”

“Arbitrarily removing judges for handing down sentences that some may disagree with cuts both ways, leaving us with no process of accountability,” Chalfen told the Daily News, adding that his sentence was “an issue of judicial discretion, not an administrative one.”

The mother of the victim said that she wishes Piche “would have received time in jail for the harm he caused to my child,” according to WWNY.

“He took something from my daughter she will never get back and has caused her to struggle with depression and anxiety,” the news outlet quoted her as saying as part of a victim impact statement.

A map photo shows Watertown, New York (Google Maps)

“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,” stated Eric Swartz, who served as Piche’s defense attorney, according to the report.

Chelsea Miller of the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault told the Daily News that the judge or other officials may not have understood what that 14-year-old girl experienced.

“Unfortunately, this can discourage survivors who see jail or prison time as a form of accountability,” Miller said.

Swartz said that Piche, who had to pay $375 in fees and surcharges, no longer works at the bus company, the Watertown Daily Times reported, adding that he had to pay a $1,000 special sex offender registration fee.

He noted that Piche had no prior criminal record, adding that there was one victim.

Facts About Crime in the United States

Violent crime in the United States has fallen sharply over the past 25 years, according to both the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).

The rate of violent crimes fell by 49 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the FBI’s UCR, which only reflects crimes reported to the police.

The violent crime rate dropped by 74 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the BJS’s NCVS, which takes into account both crimes that have been reported to the police and those that have not.

“From 1993 to 2017, the rate of violent victimization declined 74 percent, from 79.8 to 20.6 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older,” the U.S. Department of Justice stated.

Both studies are based on data up to and including 2017, the most recent year for which complete figures are available.

The FBI recently released preliminary data for 2018. According to the Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, January to June 2018, violent crime rates in the United States dropped by 4.3 percent compared to the same six-month period in 2017.

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