The #TimesUp and #MeToo movements have exposed a culture of sexual harassment by powerful men. They have also helped to bring down said men, and have sent a message that wealth, fame, and power do not mean one can harass and assault women with impunity. Despite all of this progress, though, there are times when people who commit the heinous crime of rape fails to be properly punished.
Shane Piche is one of those people. This past February, Piche admitted to a most despicable crime: The rape of a 14-year-old girl. He was her school bus driver.
Surprisingly, considering the nature of the crime, Piche will not see the inside of a prison cell for what he has done. Instead, his guilty plea means that he gets a decade’s worth of probation. Further, he is only listed as a Level I sex offender under New York Law. According to the Watertown Daily Times, that means that Piche will not be listed on the internet with his fellow sex offenders. In other words, he could move into the neighborhood where there are other vulnerable adolescent girls and repeat his crime. Parents would be none the wiser as far as Piche’s past goes.
The punishment does indicate that Piche is not be allowed to be alone with children under the age of 17, and he will still be a registered sex offender. Piche’s lawyer, Eric Schwartz, was pleased with the results of the case, and defended the leniency of Judge James P. McClusky, saying to the press:
“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.”
Parents everywhere are right to be wary of the court system with regards to crimes like child rape because of cases like this. Probation for this type of violent sexual assault represents a failure of our criminal justice system.
Shannon Barber is a progressive queer feminist and budding political scientist. She is passionate about issues of social justice, including but not limited to racial equality, criminal justice reform, pro-Black politics, and LGBTQ equality. She hopes to change the world, one mind at a time.