16-Year-Old Victim 'Could Not Stop Crying' After Judge Reverses Guilty Verdict on Sexual Assault Conviction
Adams County Judge Robert Adrian of Illinois said in his decision that the 148 days 18-year-old Drew Clinton already spent in prison was enough despite the state's four-year mandatory minimum sentencing for the crime for which he had been found guilty.
An Illinois judge is facing backlash for reversing the rape conviction of a man charged with sexually assaulting a teen girl after declaring at the sentencing hearing that the 148 days the man spent in jail was “plenty of punishment,” according to court transcripts.
“Mr. Clinton has served almost five months in the county jail, 148 days,” Adams County Judge Robert Adrian said, according to the transcripts. “For what happened in this case, that is plenty of punishment. That would be a just sentence.”
Drew Clinton, 18, had been found guilty of felony sexually assault in October following a trial that Adrian oversaw, during which his 16-year-old victim said she had been drinking alcohol at a graduation party, passed out in her underwear and awoke to Clinton assaulting her.
“I woke up, and I couldn’t really breathe, because I had a pillow over my face. And I could feel somebody, and I said stop multiple times and he wouldn’t," the teen victim told Inside Edition.
But Adrian, who had originally found Clinton guilty, reversed himself at the sentencing hearing earlier this month when he announced he would not send Clinton to jail, and would change the verdict.
“There is no way for what happened in this case that this teenager should go to the Department of Corrections,” Adrian said. “I will not do that.”
At the sentencing hearing, Adrian said he found that the prosecution failed to prove the case against Clinton.
He also said that were he to sentence Clinton to any less than the required minimum of four years for the charge of which he had been convicted, the case could be appealed and he said such an appeal would be successful, according to the court transcript.
So, Adrian reversed the decision.
Adrian had also earlier warned those in attendance in the courtroom to “keep your emotions under control,” according to the transcripts.
“Once I heard him say that he’s going to be walking free, I just lost my breath I guess and I had to leave the courtroom because I could not stop crying," the teen victim said. "I just feel disrespected."
Her dad added, "This has taken her senior year from her. She has to do remote learning now because of the heckling at school. She’s had to drop out of cross country. These are things I have watched destroy my daughter. She is not the same person that she was.”
The 16-year-old had gone to a graduation party in May where she said she got drunk and went in the pool, WHIG reported, citing police reports. She told police she then woke up with a pillow pushed on her face and discovered she was being assaulted by Clinton, who she knew from school, the outlet reported.
“I woke up at my friend’s place with a pillow over my face so I couldn’t be heard and Drew Clinton inside of me,” she said, according to WGEM. “I asked him to stop multiple times and he wouldn’t. 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 told two friends what happened before the trio returned to her home together, according to police reports. She told her father what had happened in the morning, and he called the police, according to reports.
Quanada, a domestic violence support center in the victim’s hometown of Illinois, is condemning the judge’s reversal.
“The verdict and Adrian’s comments send a chilling message to other rape victims that their behavior, not the rapists’, will be judged,” the organization’s board of directors said in a statement. “For this high school student, justice was not done. Justice was not done for any of us.”
Clinton's attorney contends that the prosecution did not meet its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Clinton maintains there was consent, his attorney said, according to WHIG.
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