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Judge Who Tossed Out Teen's Rape Conviction Is Removed From Criminal Cases

Judge Robert Adrian tossed out Drew Clinton's October conviction at a recent sentencing hearing, saying he felt the 148 days the 18-year-old had spent in the county jail had been "plenty of punishment." 

By Jill Sederstrom
Robert Adrian Ap

An Illinois judge who faced criticism after reversing the rape conviction of an 18-year-old man accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl at a graduation party has been removed from serving on criminal cases.

Chief Judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit Frank McCartney has reassigned Judge Robert Adrian to serve on civil cases, such as small claims, legal matters and probate dockets, effective immediately, according to The Herald-Whig.

The decision to remove Adrian from the criminal court docket comes after the judge threw a prosecutor out of his courtroom earlier this week for liking a post by The Quincy Area Network Against Domestic Abuse (QUANADA) that had been critical of his decision in the rape case.

“I’m not on social media, but my wife is,” Adrian told Josh Jones, the lead trial attorney for Adams County State’s Attorney’s office in court Wednesday, according to The Muddy River News. “She saw the thumbs up you gave to people attacking me. I can’t be fair with you today. Get out.”

Jones, who had been in the courtroom as part of an unconnected case, later told The Herald-Whig that he had liked the post in order to support victim’s rights.

“I think that’s a fairly benign opinion for the lead trial attorney to have,” he said.

Adrian has been the subject of intense criticism after he announced during a Jan. 3 sentencing hearing that he was reversing the conviction of 18-year-old Drew Clinton, who had been convicted of criminal sexual assault during a three-day bench trial in October.

Clinton had been accused of raping a 16-year-old at an alcohol-fueled graduation party over Memorial Day weekend while she was asleep on a couch.

Clinton had been facing a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in the Illinois Department of Corrections; however, after reviewing two motions filed in the case at Clinton’s sentencing hearing, Adrian changed the verdict to not guilty, citing Clinton’s lack of a previous criminal record and age of just 18 years old at the time of the assault.

“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,” Adrian said, according to a court transcript. “There is no way for what happened in this case that this teenager should go to the Department of Corrections.”

Adrian went on to say that Clinton had already served 148 days in a county jail, which he said was “plenty of punishment” and a “just sentence.”

While sentencing guidelines prevented him from sentencing Clinton to time served, Adrian said “what the Court can do” because the case had been a bench trial was determine the prosecution had “failed to prove their case” and overturn the verdict, according to the court records.

Adrian’s decision has been met with intense criticism from prosecutors, the victim, her family and QUANADA, who has called for Adrian to be removed from the bench.

“QUANADA believes Adrian should be removed from office, the conviction previously rendered through a fair trial should be restored with the appropriate sentence, and Adams County judges must be appropriately trained to handle sexual assault and domestic violence cases,” the organization said in a statement addressing the controversy.

They argued that the “dangerous” decision to overturn the verdict showed assailants they were “above the law.”

“This judgement further reinforces the fact that standards for women have always been impossibly high while they are impossibly low for men,” they wrote. “This is exactly why so many survivors don’t feel safe to tell their stories for fight for justice.”

The victim’s father said the judge’s surprising decision has impacted his daughter’s ability to heal from the trauma.

“It’s worse now than it was (before), because not only does she not have her justice, but now she feels like she spoke up for nothing, and you know that hurts,” he told The Herald-Whig. “Now she wishes she wouldn’t have even said anything.”

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