(AP/WFLA) – A petition calling for the removal of a New York judge who sentenced a bus driver to probation, after the man pleaded guilty to raping a 14-year-old girl, has more than 60,000 signatures.
“Judge James McClusky just let a child rapist off with a slap on the wrist. Remove him from his position immediately for his blatant disregard for survivors of sexual assault,” wrote the petition’s author, Shaunna Thomas.
McClusky drew ire last week when he sentenced Shane Piche to 10 years of probation.
The 26-year-old was accused of raping the teenager at his residence 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.
Piche also 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.
The sentencing drew national media attention and harsh criticism. Twitter users posted the phone number and address of McClusky’s chambers in Watertown.
“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 wrote in an email.
Chalfen said the judge was “well within” the sentencing range for this type of negotiated plea conviction. The maximum state prison time he could have received would have been from 1 1/3 to 4 years, he said.
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. He took something from my daughter she will never get back and has caused her to struggle with depression and anxiety.”
Thomas’ petition has been circulating for less than two days and already has over 60,000 signatures. The goal is to reach 75,000.