A New York judge who made the controversial decision to sentence a rapist to probation has reportedly been receiving “vitriolic” phone calls over his handling of the case.
Jefferson County Supreme Court Judge James McClusky sentenced former school bus driver Shane Piche to 10 years of probation last week, after Piche, 26, pleaded guilty to third-degree rape in February. Piche victimized a 14-year-old girl he met while driving the bus, sexually assaulting her at his home in Watertown, New York. In addition to probation, McClusky ordered Piche to register as a Level 1 sex offender and barred him from being alone with anyone under the age of 17.
Piche was also ordered to pay $375 in court fees in addition to the $1,000 special sex offender registration fee he’ll have to pay, according to the Watertown Daily Times.
The decision was met with widespread criticism reminiscent of the backlash that followed the Brock Turner sentencing, with county officials reporting on Tuesday that McClusky had received multiple “vitriolic” phone calls at work, according to the Associated Press.
“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 told the outlet via email.
Chalfen went on to say that McClusky’s sentencing was “well within” the accepted range for a negotiated plea conviction, noting that the maximum amount of time in state prison that Piche could have received was between a little over one year and four years, the Associated Press reports.
Jefferson County chief assistant district attorney Patricia Dziuba similarly defended the sentence, telling the outlet that all parties involved acted within the rules of the law.
McClusky, as well as Piche’s attorney, did not return AP’s request for comment.
While Piche declined to speak during sentencing, his defense attorney, Eric Swartz, defended the outcome of the case, according to WWNY-TV, a station out of Carthage, New York.
“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,” he said.
The victim’s mother, on the other hand, did not seem pleased, according to a victim impact statement obtained by WWNY.
“I wish Shane Piche would have received time in jail for the harm he caused to my child,” she said. “He took something from my daughter she will never get back and has caused her to struggle with depression and anxiety.”
Piche, who had no previous arrests, faced additional charges of unlawfully dealing with a child and endangering the welfare of a child because he reportedly gave the girl alcohol, the Watertown Daily Times notes. Three protection orders were also issued as part of the resolution of the case.
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