Judge who reversed Drew Clinton rape verdict is removed from criminal cases amid outrage

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  • Robert Adrian
    Canadian artist (1935-2015)
Rape Conviction Tossed Illinois (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Rape Conviction Tossed Illinois (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

An Illinois judge who overturned a teen’s rape conviction and let him walk free has reportedly been removed from criminal cases.

Adams County Judge Robert Adrian sparked nationwide outrage this week with his ruling on the case of 18-year-old Drew Clinton, who was found was found guilty of raping a 16-year-old at a graduation party in May 2021.

Clinton pleaded guilty to all charges against him and his defence claimed he believed the sex was consensual.

But despite the October conviction for felony sexual assault, Judge Adrian on 3 January freed Clinton, who faced a minimum sentence of four years, from jail after a mere 148 days, saying that was “plenty of punishment”.

Amid immense backlash, Judge Adrian was removed from criminal cases and reassigned to civil proceedings under an administrative order filed by the chief judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit on Thursday, according to the Herald-Whig newspaper.

The move came as the survivor’s father, Scott, accused the judge of “muzzling” his daughter in an interview with The Independent.

The survivor, who revealed her identity in order to speak out about the case and campaign for justice but is not being named by The Independent, was denied a chance to read her prepared victim impact statement when Judge Adrian ruled that prosecutors had not proved their case – overturning his own previous ruling and effectively preventing Clinton from being tried again.

“By law, the court is supposed to sentence this young man to the Department of Corrections. This court will not do that. That is not just,” he said in court.

“There is no way for what happened in this case that this teenager should go to the Department of Corrections. I will not do that.”

On hearing the decision, the survivor said she fled the courtroom.

“I immediately had to leave the courtroom and go to the bathroom. I was crying,” she said, according to WGEM.

Relating her ordeal, she said: “I woke up at my friend’s place with a pillow over my face so I couldn’t be heard and Drew Clinton inside of me.

“I asked him to stop multiple times and he wouldn’t. I finally got off the couch and pushed him off of me and he jumped up and just started playing video games as if nothing had happened.”

Now, the girl and her family are speaking out about what they consider to be a miscarriage of justice by Judge Adrian, while a petition demands the judge face charges over “abuse of judicial discretion and power”.

“Judge Robert “Bob” Adrian was the judge who ruled Drew S Clinton is guilty of criminal sexual assault,” the statement on the page reads.

“However, on January 3, 2022, this very same Judge Adrian reversed his own ruling and declared the defendant was not guilty.”

It adds: “They say that Judge Adrian reversed his own ruling because he simply did not want to hand down the sentence that is associated with the crime to which he himself had already found the perpetrator guilty. That is not how the law is to operate.

“Judge Adrian does not have the authority to change the law because he wants to. His job is to uphold and defend the law.”

The petition, which has been signed by almost 9,000 people, also shares a comment the judge made in court about the girl’s parents.

“This is what happens when parents do not exercise their parental responsibilities, when we have people, adults, having parties for teenagers, and they allow coeds and female people to swim in their underwear in their swimming pool. And, no, underwear is not the same as swimming suits,” he said. “They allowed 16-year-olds to bring liquor to a party. They provided liquor to underage people, and you wonder how these things happen. Well, that’s how these things happen. The court is totally disgusted with that whole thing.”

His comments have been slammed by the petition organisers, as well as by the girl and her parents, who have accused Judge Adrian of blaming them for the sexual assault.

“He has destroyed everything we’ve worked at to get my daughter to start healing … in just 15 minutes he destroyed all of that,” the girl’s father told The Independent in reference to the judge.

“We were finally seeing her starting to be a little bit more like herself again. The scar was there, and the scab was starting to heal, then the judge ripped it off and we’re back to square one.”

The judge blamed everyone but his daughter’s attacker for what had happened to her, he says.

“It’s been a rough road, and then for the judge to spit in our faces and blame my daughter and blame the parents and everyone else for what he did is totally unacceptable.” He adds: “You’ve taken my 16-year-old daughter, who was starting to live with what happened, and meant she now has to start all over again.”

Scott says he feels that the judge failed to deliver a verdict in accordance with the law.

“Your job as a judge is to uphold the law, not take the law into your own hands… you found him guilty,” he says. “Your job was to sentence him, and because you couldn’t change the law, the only thing you could do was change the verdict. What gives you the right to take the law into your own hands?”

Despite the ruling, the survivor has pledged to keep fighting for justice. “It’s scary to come out and talk about this, especially when a judge make this kind of decision,’ she said in an interview with DailyMail.com

“What happened to me isn’t something that happens, and we have to keep fighting for justice.”

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