Illinois Removes Judge Who Reversed Rape Conviction

Robert Adrian abused his position, oversight body says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2022 7:56 AM CST
Updated Feb 24, 2024 3:30 PM CST
Judge Tosses Rape Conviction to Keep Teen Out of Prison
Judge Robert Adrian presides over court on Aug. 26, 2020, in Adams County, Ill.   (Jake Shane/Quincy Herald-Whig via AP)
UPDATE Feb 24, 2024 3:30 PM CST

An Illinois judge whose decision to reverse the conviction of a man he found guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl drew outrage has been removed from the bench. The Illinois Courts Commission found that Adams County Judge Robert Adrian circumvented the law and engaged in misconduct, the AP reports. The oversight panel held a hearing in November into a complaint against Adrian and stripped him of his position on Friday. The judge "abused his position of power to indulge his own sense of justice," the decision said. Adrian told the Chicago Tribune that his removal is "totally a miscarriage of justice."

Jan 14, 2022 7:56 AM CST

At a bench trial in Illinois in October, a 16-year-old girl testified that 18-year-old Drew Clinton held a pillow over her face and raped her after she fell asleep at a graduation party. Adams County Judge Robert Adrian found Clinton guilty of criminal sexual assault—but he threw his own conviction out at a sentencing hearing this month because he didn't want to send Clinton to prison. In a decision strongly condemned by prosecutors and victims' advocates, Adrian said the 148 days the teen had spent in jail was punishment enough and it would be "unjust" to sentence him to four years in prison, the mandatory minimum, reports the New York Times. The judge, who noted that Clinton had turned 18 just two weeks before the party, slammed parents who had allowed the party to take place and given alcohol to teenagers.

"This is what's happened when parents do not exercise their parental responsibilities, when we have people, adults, having parties for teenagers, and they allow coeds and female people to swim in their underwear in their swimming pool," the judge said. "And, no, underwear is not the same as swimming suits." Carrie Ward, chief executive of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said the judge was shifting all the blame "from the perpetrator, from the actual person who committed the sexual assault, to everyone else, including the victim." The girl told WGEM that she was devastated by the reversal. "I immediately had to leave the courtroom and go to the bathroom. I was crying." Her father said that she had been an athlete and honor roll student but since the assault, she has dropped out of all sports and shifted to home learning.

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The Quincy Area Network Against Domestic Abuse condemned the judge's decision and remarks Tuesday, saying it sends a "chilling message to other rape victims that their behavior, not the rapists', will be judged." The next day, Adrian kicked a prosecutor out of the courtroom because he had liked a Facebook post from the group. "I can't be fair with you," Adrian said. "Get out." The Herald-Whig reports that the judge is no longer presiding over criminal cases. Judge Frank McCartney, chief judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit, issued an order Thursday reassigning Adrian to small claims and other civil cases and transferring his criminal docket to another judge. (More Illinois stories.)

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