Two court cases connected to RCC, two bad punishments

In the last couple of months, there have been some developments in two cases that are connected to Riverside City College, one involving former administrator Bill O’Rafferty and the other with the death of student Reyna De Leon. In both cases a major crime was committed, although in the end no one will end up doing any major time in prison.

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By Staff Editorial

By Staff Editorial

In the last couple of months, there have been some developments in two cases that are connected to Riverside City College, one involving former administrator Bill O’Rafferty and the other with the death of student Reyna De Leon.

In both cases a major crime was committed, although in the end no one will end up doing any major time in prison.

O’Rafferty used to be an administrator for RCC, but he was also a former sheriff’s deputy for the city of Riverside. He had the power to protect the city as well as students, but instead used that power to steal about $1 million.

He defrauded about 4,000 students of Palo Verde Community College District in Blythe by siphoning money out of their enrollment fees.

All in all, O’Rafferty was charged and found guilty with committing 10 felonies.

Although O’Rafferty didn’t get off scott-free, the punishment hardly fits the crime. The prosecuting attorney, Bill Mitchell of the District Attorney’s office pushed for a penalty of 9 years in jail.

O’Rafferty ended up with a year in the county jail, 5 years probation and a fine of $200,000. Mitchell is skeptical that O’Rafferty will spend any time in jail at all.

At his sentencing, O’Rafferty said “I want to be a man of honor.” He continued, “I’m here today asking for leniency.”

If O’Rafferty had any semblance of honor, he wouldn’t have swindled the hard-working citizens of the city and, especially, students.

It’s hard enough to pay for college without someone you should be able to trust stealing money from you.

What’s even more ridiculous is O’Rafferty’s plea for lenience as part of being an honorable man.

The most honorable thing O’Rafferty could do at this point would be for him to stand up, be accountable for what he’s done and take the maximum sentence as a fitting punishment.

One year of county jail, and one year that he might not even have to serve, does not seem like an adequate penance for 10 felony convictions.

Another crime that shook the RCC community took place on Oct. 26.

While walking home with her two children, RCC student Reyna De Leon was struck and killed by a car.

De Leon was a hard-working student at RCC. She got a lot more done than most people, despite being confined to a wheelchair.

Her life was cut tragically short.

That car, driven by a 16-year-old, was involved with another car in street racing at that moment, in the middle of the day. Both drivers, both minors, were taken into custody on vehicular manslaughter charges.

We refrain from using the word “accident” to describe this wreck, because although the act was not intentional it should not be minimized by the term “accident” which makes it feel like something you could almost shrug off.

The driver pled guilty to vehicular manslaughter.

Steve Harmon, the driver’s attorney, told the court that his client “wants to spend his life trying to make this right in any way he can.”

Still the consequences of his actions only stipulate that he spend 74 days as part of a work program and that he speak out against street racing at high schools.

He was given credit for the 106 days he spent in juvenile detention.

The 17-year-old driver involved in the crash, Michael Buschman, is being charged as an adult.

It hardly seems fair.

Buschman, only about one year older than the other driver, will likely suffer more severe consequences.

While he is also responsible for De Leon’s death, it would make more sense if the driver who actually killed her received a greater penalty.

Does the punishment fit the crime? In these two cases, of course not.

Everyday there is news of people being convicted of crimes, a lot less severe than these two, and being sentenced to many years in prison.

We guess the old saying “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time” has lost its meaning in these cases.

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