Via America’s Lawyer: Mike Papantonio is joined by investigate journalist, Mollye Barrows, to talk about how a City School District bus driver admitted to raping a 14-year-old girl, only to get a plea deal with no jail time.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             In Watertown, New York, people are outraged that a man who pleaded guilty to raping a 14 year old girl won’t be serving any jail time. Legal journalist Mollye Barrows with the Trial Lawyer Magazine joins me to talk about this. I don’t know. This is the most vulgar story. It’s vulgar on so many levels.

Mollye Barrows:                It is.

Mike Papantonio:             But to me, here we have a 14 year old girl, and the judge says, ah, well we’re just going to give this guy probation. What, what was the rationale that you saw here? I, I looked for it and I couldn’t find the rationale.

Mollye Barrows:                Yeah, I know. Well I’ll, I’ll outline the details of the case for you and then we’ll get into a little bit about, so that helps explain what their rationale was. But essentially this guy, Shane Piche, was sentenced to 10 years probation and he pled guilty to a third degree rape charge. His initial charges had been raping this 14 year old girl he had met when he was a bus driver for the Watertown city school district and she was a student on the bus.

Now the alleged incident or it’s not alleged, he confessed to it, happened at his home. He was also charged originally with I think providing alcohol, contributing to the delinquency of a minor basically by providing her alcohol. And apparently there had also been two other girls there as well. And he had initially been charged with providing them alcohol too, but that charge didn’t show up. I don’t know if it was dropped or what the situation.

Mike Papantonio:             How old is he?

Mollye Barrows:                He was 26 at the time that this happened. So yeah. So essentially he ended up pleading guilty to this and as they’re going through the process, they had charged him as a sex offender, but only a level, they wanted, the prosecution wanted a level two and the judge said, no, it only needs to be a level one because they ended up knocking the charges down to where it was just her. She was the only victim. These other two girls that he allegedly gave alcohol to, those charges weren’t brought before court.

Mike Papantonio:             So, so forcible rape or was it…

Mollye Barrows:                So it was basically saying that the only reason the DA said the only reason they were pursuing this to a great extent is because that was the law. They had the, she wasn’t of legal to consent.

Mike Papantonio:             So it was an age issue.

Mollye Barrows:                It was an age issue.

Mike Papantonio:             And the judge thinks, oh well that’s okay and we’re just going to…

Mollye Barrows:                And what I read between the lines as and in various other reports was that they’re essentially in a way, yes, because she wasn’t disagree, she, she, just because she was not of the age to consent didn’t mean that she did not consent.

Mike Papantonio:             Right.

Mollye Barrows:                And so that was essentially they’re saying she, it’s almost a way of saying she asked for it.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay, but that’s, you see, that’s the policy. The policy argument is that there is an age of reason and an age of choice, and anything below that age, whether it’s 17, 18, anything below that age there are, you know, there are plenty of studies. They didn’t just arbitrarily come up with this law.

Mollye Barrows:                Right, there’s a reason it exists.

Mike Papantonio:             There’s a reason, they’ve studied the idea. They’ve studied, when can I, when can a child make an intelligent decision? When can a child determine that this is what they want to engage in? So it’s not just somebody, they just didn’t pick a number out and say, hey, you know, let’s make it 18, or let’s make it 17.

Mollye Barrows:                There’s a reason that it exists.

Mike Papantonio:             It doesn’t happen like that. So this judge, I can’t imagine that he’s not under pretty serious scrutiny. What’s the outcry on this?

Mollye Barrows:                Yes. So, James P. McClusky is the judge. He’s the one that decided that the level of sex offender should drop from a two to a one. He, you know, made a number of comments that basically would imply that he felt like that there was, because the guy had no priors, that he felt like that that level needed to be dropped as well. There’s 50,000 signatures now wanting this guy taken off the bench because of this. People are outraged.

The victim’s mother is outrage. She said, you know, he took something from my daughter she’ll never have back again. Now she’s dealing with depression and anxiety. And the impression that you get from the DA’s office as they defend this judge’s sentence was that hey, we actually did her a favor. If we had initially charged him under the higher level rape charge that we were looking at, which did have similar sentencing guidelines to the one that he ended up pleading to, if we had charged him under that she might’ve had to have testified, she would’ve had to have testified before a grand jury as well as at trial.

So going back to your point, it’s almost like you’re, hey, we know that you were raped, we know that you might’ve consented but you’re not at the age to consent, so we’re just going to save you the trouble of testifying.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, and see those are the operative words. Age of consent. Again, this isn’t something that somebody just arbitrarily picked out a number and said, it’s this number and here, everything below is below the age of consent. They’ve studied it and they’ve figured out what is the impact girl, to a young lady in, in later years. When can she really consent? Obviously 13 and 14 is not an age of consent. And so I think that, I think they really need to treat this, this judge very poorly in this, and I hope they do.

Mollye Barrows:                I hope they do as well, Pap. We’re going to continue to follow it and see what becomes of this petition and the public outcry in this case.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, because it sends a heck of a message to the rest of the public doesn’t it?

Mollye Barrows:                Absolutely, and we certainly know the patterns with people like this, often cases.

Mike Papantonio:             Mollye, thanks for joining me. Okay.

Mollye Barrows:                Thanks Pap.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.