Sentencing was handed down on Thursday after 26-year-old Shane Piche of Watertown, New York pleaded guilty to raping a 14-year-old girl. The former bus driver was sentenced to 10 years of probation for the June 10, 2018 crime.
During his testimony, Piche told the courts how he met the girl while working as a bus driver for a company contracted by the Watertown City School District. The 26-year-old explained how his relationship with the student developed, and how he used social media to “maintain communication” with her. Additional charges levied against Piche include first-degree unlawfully dealing with a child and endangering the welfare of a child.
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Patricia Dziuba explained to CNN how the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s office originally asked the judge to consider sentencing that included a “Split to probation.” This punishment would have called for jail time, a level 2 designation on the sex offender registry and a period of probation.
Instead, New York State Supreme Court Judge James P. McClusky handed down a 10 year probation sentence without jail time, a reduction in Piche’s designation to a Level 1 on the sex offender database and restricted his ability to be around anyone under the age of 17. Additionally, Piche will be required to pay a fine — which includes $375 in court fees and a $1,000 fee to register on the sex offender database — and receive sex offender counseling.
Anger over the lenient sentencing arose swiftly on social media after the news broke on Tuesday. The victim’s mother was among those speaking out against the lack of jail time. In an excerpt from the victim impact statement obtained by ABC affiliate station 7 News in New York, the victim’s mother said, “I wish Shane Piche would have received time in jail for the harm he caused to my child.” She continued, “He took something from my daughter she will never get back and has caused her to struggle with depression and anxiety.”
The Watertown City School Superintendent told CNN that the district cannot comment on the personal matters of outside contracted employees. However, an attorney for Piche has said that the felon no longer holds a position with the bus company.