An upstate New York judge who stoked outrage after he sentenced a former school bus driver to probation in the rape of a 14-year-old girl has been inundated with malicious phone calls.
Jefferson County Supreme Court Judge James McClusky sentenced 26-year-old Shane Piche to 10 years of probation last week.
The sentence sparked an online wave of wave of condemnation against the judge from people arguing that the punishment was too lenient.
Piche pleaded guilty in February to raping the teenager at his home in Watertown, New York, last summer.
His sentencing last week drew national media attention and harsh criticism.
Jefferson County Supreme Court Judge James McClusky has faced harsh backlash after sentencing 26-year-old Shane Piche to 10 years of probation last week
Twitter users repeatedly posted the phone number and address of McClusky’s chambers in Watertown.
An online petition is also circulating calling for McClusky to be recalled.
‘The Judge’s chambers have received numerous vitriolic calls regarding the case, the vast majority from out of state, by individuals who know nothing about the facts and circumstances of the case, thanks to social media,’ state court spokesman Lucian Chalfen said..
Chalfen said the judge was ‘well within’ the sentencing range for this type of negotiated plea conviction.
He said the maximum state prison time he could have received would have been from 16 months to 4 years.
Piche, who was a bus driver in the victim’s school district, pleaded guilty to third-degree rape in February.
He was required to register as a Level 1 sex offender – the lowest of three categories based on the risk of another offense.
Three orders of protection were issued and Piche was ordered not to be left alone with anyone under the age of 17.
Piche pleaded guilty in February to raping the teenager at his home in Watertown, New York, last summer
Piche, who was a bus driver in the victim’s school district, pleaded guilty to third-degree rape in February
Jefferson County chief assistant district attorney Patricia Dziuba said all parties acted within the parameters set by law and that the prosecutor handling the case sought up to six months of jail time along with probation, supervision and treatment.
She declined to criticize the judge’s sentence.
Piche didn’t make a statement during his sentencing.
Calls seeking comment were left Tuesday with McCluskey and Piche’s attorney, Eric Swartz.
‘He’ll be a felon for the rest of his life. He’s on the sex offender registry for a long time,’ Swartz told television station WWNY of Watertown.
The station said a victim impact statement given to them by the victim’s mother read: ‘I wish Shane Piche would have received time in jail for the harm he caused to my child.
California voters recalled Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky last year after he sentenced college swimmer Brock Turner to six months in jail on a sexual assault conviction
‘He took something from my daughter she will never get back and has caused her to struggle with depression and anxiety.’
Chelsea Miller, of the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said based on the mother’s statement, it’s possible that the judge and court officials didn’t understand the harm the survivor experienced.
‘Unfortunately, this can discourage survivors who see jail or prison time as a form of accountability,’ Miller said.
Other judges also have faced public pressure over sex-crime sentences in recent years.
In a prominent example, California voters recalled Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky last year after he sentenced college swimmer Brock Turner to six months in jail on a sexual assault conviction. Turner denied the accusation.
Persky cited a probation department recommendation, Turner’s youth and his clean criminal record in departing from a minimum sentence of two years in prison.
California’s Commission on Judicial Performance ruled that the sentencing was done correctly, but critics said the punishment was too light.