Judge reverses his own teen rape conviction, gets ousted from bench over it

More than two years after an Illinois judge sparked outrage regarding a sexual assault conviction, his decision saw him booted from the bench.

In Jan. 2022, Judge Robert Adrian became the center of controversy after deciding that time served had been sufficient punishment for an 18-year-old who had been convicted of raping an unconscious 16-year-old girl at an April 2021 graduation party.

Friday, the judge’s decision to reverse the conviction of Drew Clinton resulted in his expulsion from the bench after a ruling from the Illinois Court Commission detailed “intentional, dishonest, and extensive misconduct.”

The order from the seven-member commission read in part, “The Code and the Commission’s precedent provide ample grounds for removal in this case. Respondent has engaged in multiple instances of misconduct, he abused his position of power to indulge his own sense of justices while circumventing the law, he lied under oath on multiple occasions, and he has failed to acknowledge his misconduct. Much more was required of respondent.”

Previously, Adrian’s actions resulted in his being reassigned to handle civil cases when he reversed the conviction at the sentencing hearing after Clinton had served nearly five months in county jail. As the state required a mandatory minimum sentence of four years, the judge, who found fault with parents for hosting a party for teens that included alcohol, circumvented that and defended his actions by claiming prosecutors “failed to prove their case.”

“Such intentional, dishonest, and extensive misconduct demonstrates respondent’s utter disregard for the truth, the judiciary, and our justice system,” the commission expressed in their order that also asserted Adrian had lied to the Inquiry Board’s investigation about his motives.

The Chicago Tribune spoke with the victim, Cameron Vaughan, who reacted by saying she was “very happy that the commission could see all the wrong and all the lies that he told the entire time. I’m so unbelievably happy right now. He can’t hurt anybody else. He can’t ruin anyone else’s life.”

She had also told WGEM, “I started crying, I was so happy to hear, because I wasn’t expecting the verdict for another month or so.”

“I was super upset and sad and depressed but I feel like I have moved forward quite a bit from that,” the young woman added.

Quincy Area Network Against Domestic Abuse CEO Megan Duesterhaus told the Tribune, “This decision reassures survivors of sexual violence that they can have confidence in the criminal justice system in Illinois knowing that if they are mistreated it will not be without consequence and accountability.”

Meanwhile, Adrian claimed that the decision from the commission was the latest example of a “two-tiered justice system for conservative Republicans in Illinois” and asserted that he was targeted for being “a known Christian conservative.”

“It’s totally a miscarriage of justice. I did what was right. I’ve always told the truth about it,” he argued further and told the newspaper that after getting removed from the bench, “I’m just going to retire and enjoy my retirement.”

Kevin Haggerty

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