Judge’s reversal in criminal sexual assault case draws ire

An Adams County judge's decision to reverse his ruling on a sexual assault case has ignited a...
An Adams County judge's decision to reverse his ruling on a sexual assault case has ignited a firestorm of controversy and has victim advocates outraged.(WGEM)
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 8:15 AM CST
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QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM/Gray News) - The decision by a judge to reverse his own conviction of a man accused in the criminal sexual assault of a Illinois girl has ignited a firestorm of criticism.

During a bench trial in October, Adams County Judge Robert Adrian convicted 18-year-old Drew Clinton of one count of criminal sexual assault, WGEM reported, for reportedly sexually assaulting a 16-year-old at a graduation party on May 30.

The girl spoke out for the first time Tuesday about the assault, saying her face was covered with a pillow so she couldn’t be heard while the assault was taking place. She said she asked Clinton to stop multiple times and finally was able to push him off her.

“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,” she said.

At a sentencing last week, however, Adrian reversed himself following a pair of motions by Clinton’s attorney, saying that a mandatory minimum sentence imposed by state statute would be inappropriate.

According to transcripts from the hearing obtained by the Herald-Whig, Adrian said that the time Clinton had served in the Adams County Jail was enough.

“For what happened in this case, that is plenty of punishment,” Adrian said.

During the hearing, Adrian also had harsh criticism for parents at the party where the alleged assault happened and chastised them for letting minors drink and swim in the pool in only their underwear.

Assistant State’s Attorney Anita Rodriguez prosecutes sex crimes for the county. She told the Herald-Whig she has never seen anything like the decision in her 40-year career.

“My heart is bleeding for the victim,” Rodriguez told the newspaper. “It was a very difficult bench trial. It did a lot for her healing process, but now she’s back to where we were at.”

The 16-year-old girl said hearing Adrian’s decision was devastating.

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

The girl’s father said the seven-month ordeal has been devastating for his daughter.

“She was a cross-country runner. She ran in track. She was an honor roll student,” he said. “Now, she’s lucky to carry a C average, and she’s dropped out of all sports. All of her learning is at home now. She can’t go to school.”

On Tuesday, the Quincy Area Network Against Domestic Abuse issued a statement blasting Adrian’s decision and his comments during the hearing.

“The verdict and Adrian’s comments send a chilling message to other rape victims that their behavior, not the rapists’, will be judged,” the statement read. “Shame the victims, free the rapists. This judgment reinforces the fact that standards for women have always been impossibly high while they are impossibly low for men.”

The statement said justice was not done.

“Women in Adams County should be angry and afraid,” the group said. “One message is clear: If you are raped, avoid Judge Adrian’s courtroom.”

The group’s executive director Megan Duesterhaus-AuBuchon said she was shocked when she heard about the reversal and Adrian’s comments.

She said the court system is supposed to support survivors of sexual assault, not subject them to victim blaming.

Duesterhaus-AuBuchon said she doesn’t want what happened to discourage those who have suffered.

“There are all the victims out there that are seeing these same messages. So anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault needs to know that there is a lot of us out there that absolutely understand victim blaming and shaming, and we’re not OK with it,” she said.

Messages were left for Drew Schnack, who represented Clinton, and with the Circuit Court administrator for Adrian, but they were not returned.

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