Story at a glance
- An Illinois judge reversed his own conviction of criminal sexual assault in a case involving a minor.
- Drew Clinton was convicted in October 2021 of criminal sexual assault and had served 148 days of his four-year prison sentence.
- The prosecutor on the case said she had never had a verdict reversed like this in her 40-year career.
A judge in Illinois took the unusual step of overturning his own conviction made last year on a rape case involving a minor.
Judge Robert Adrian of Adams County, located in Quincy, Ill. held a sentencing hearing earlier this month to reverse his conviction of one count of criminal sexual assault for 18-year-old Drew Clinton. Clinton had been charged for raping 16-year-old Cameron Vaughan over Memorial Day weekend in 2021.
Clinton had been the subject of a three-day bench trial in October and was found guilty of one count of criminal sexual assault. He faced a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison.
However, according to local media, Clinton’s attorney filed a series of motions that were granted and led to a new sentencing trial.
Adrian cited that the prosecution had failed to prove their case and reversed Clinton’s conviction to not guilty. Clinton had served 148 days of his four-year sentence.
“For what happened in this case, that is plenty of punishment. That would be a just sentence,” said Adrian, according to a court transcript.
Adrian also cited that Clinton had recently turned 18-years-old and had no prior criminal record.
At the time of the assault, Clinton had sexually assaulted Vaughan during a graduation party in May 2021. According to reports from the Quincy Police Department, Vaughan had attended the graduation party, got drunk and went into a pool to swim.
Vaughan later fell asleep and was awoken to a pillow being pushed on her face as Clinton was assaulting her. She told police that she told Clinton to stop but he did not, until she asked a second time and pushed him off of her.
Clinton contends that there was consent that night, according to his attorney Drew Schnack.
In reversing Clinton’s conviction, Adrian also had harsh words for the parents at the graduation party, blaming them for allowing parties that involve coed swimming and alcohol.
“Well, that’s how these things happen. The Court is totally disgusted with that whole thing,” said Adrian, according to local media.
Vaughan’s father told local media that Adrian’s decision to reverse Clinton’s sexual assault conviction has caused his daughter a lot of pain.
“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. Now she wishes she wouldn’t have even said anything.”
Anita Rodriguez, Adams County assistant state’s attorney, prosecutes sex crimes and said she has never had a verdict reversed like this in her 40-year career.
“My heart is bleeding for the victim. 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,” said Rodriguez to local media.
The Quincy Area Network Against Domestic Abuse (QUANADA) also released a statement after Adrian’s reversal, describing his actions in part as, “dangerous and highly atypical conclusion to a sexual assault case.”
“One message is clear: if you are raped, avoid Judge Adrian’s courtroom,” said QUANADA.
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