Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

A judge in western Illinois who was outraged when he threw the verdict on sexual assault of an 18-year-old man who says the 148 days the man spent in prison was punishment enough no longer presides over a criminal case.

An administrative order filed Thursday by Chief Justice Frank McCartney of the Eighth District Court assigned Adams County Judge Robert Adrian to small claims, legal and probate cases and other civil cases with immediate effect, the (Quincy) Herald-Whig reported.

“We think it’s a step in the right direction,” the mother of the 16-year-old victim in the case told CBS News on Friday, adding, “We want the verdict changed, vice versa.”

Conviction of rape thrown Illinois
Judge Robert Adrian presides over the court on August 26, 2020 in Adams County, Ill.

Jake Shane / Quincy Herald-Whig via AP

Adrian had led a three-day trial in which Drew Clinton was charged with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl at a graduation party in May.

After finding Clinton guilty of a single charge of sexual assault in October, Adrian dropped the sentence on Jan. 3, when Clinton appeared for sentencing, saying he would not impose the mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison.

“Mr. Clinton has served nearly five months in the county jail, 148 days,” Adrian said, according to the transcript of the hearing, which has been posted online by local media. “For what happened in this case, it’s a lot of punishment. That would be a fair verdict.”

But Adrian said that if he were to decide that the sentencing he was required to follow was unconstitutional, his decision would be overturned and Clinton would be ordered into jail. To avoid an appeal that he thought would be successful, Adrian said what he could do was state that the prosecutors had not “proved their case” and dismissed the charge of sexual assault.

Clinton’s attorney, Drew Schnack, agreed with the judge’s action, saying the prosecution did not prove his case and that the evidence was not strong enough to justify a conviction.

The prosecutor in the case, Anita Rodriguez, said she had never in her 40-year career seen anything like Adrian’s decision and worried about how it might affect the victim.

During the trial, the judge heard evidence that the girl had told police she had attended the party, where she drank alcohol and swam in a pool in her underwear before eventually fainting. She said she woke up to a pillow being pushed in her face and that Clinton sexually assaulted her.

“The judge who owes my daughter’s decisions was a disgusting show,” the girl’s mother told CBS News, praising her for talking about what happened.

“I can not imagine that as a 16-year-old I get up and do this. It would be so hard. I applaud her for doing this and being so strong and fighting her battle.”

Quincy Area Network Against Domestic Abuse, which helps victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, said the judge’s decision sends a dangerous message.

On Wednesday, Adrian, apparently angry at the criticism, asked another prosecutor who appeared before him in an unrelated case to leave his courtroom because the prosecutor had “liked” a comment on Facebook that was critical of the judge.

“I can not be fair to you,” Adrian told Adams County prosecutors, the Herald-Whig reported. “Go out.”

On Thursday, Adams County Attorney Gary L. Farha issued a statement in which he said that “there have been several questions about the judge’s actions in this case and about removing a lawyer from the courtroom for a” like “post on social media. “

Farha said his office would not comment further on the judge’s situation.

“The Adams County State Attorney’s office is not, and should not be, the focus of this story,” Farha said. “Rather, the focus and attention should remain on a 16-year-old girl who is being subjected to a trauma beyond what should be demanded of anyone, and a system that traumatized her and made her victims again. She did nothing to justify this. She deserves our support. She is worthy of our respect. “

Marty Lebel contributed with reporting.


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