Sentencing/Post Conviction

Judge is assigned to civil cases after saying 148 days in jail is 'plenty of punishment' for sexual assault

  • Print

books and gavel

Image from Shutterstock.

A judge is western Illinois is no longer handling criminal cases after he reversed his bench-trial conviction of an 18-year-old man for sexual assault, declaring that the youth had received “plenty of punishment” after spending 148 days in jail.

Judge Robert Adrian of Adams County, Illinois, was reassigned to civil matters in an administrative order Thursday, report the Herald-Whig and the Associated Press.

The New York Times has coverage of the controversy.

Adrian’s decision was criticized by the prosecutor in the case, the Quincy Area Network Against Domestic Abuse and the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

Adrian had convicted Drew Clinton in an October bench trial for assaulting a 16-year-old girl at a graduation party in May 2021. In a Jan. 3 hearing, he reconsidered his verdict and found Clinton not guilty. A transcript is here.

Adrian noted that Illinois law required a mandatory sentence. Adrian said Clinton had turned 18 just weeks before the party and had no prior record. Adrian said he could find the Illinois sentencing law unconstitutional, but he would be reversed on appeal and Clinton would still end up in prison.

Clinton “has served almost five months in the county jail, 148 days,” Adrian said. “For what happened in this case, that is plenty of punishment.”

Before Adrian ruled, Clinton’s lawyer had argued that the sentencing law, which required a minimum sentence of four years in prison, was “a legislative interference with the judicial process.” He also argued that the state was unable to prove that the intoxicated victim was incapable of giving consent to sex.

“She knew what was going on, she was capable of consenting, she somewhat participated in the act,” argued the lawyer, Andrew Schnack III.

The girl criticized Adrian’s decision in an interview with WGEM.

“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. “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.”

On Wednesday, Adrian ejected a different prosecutor from his courtroom, saying he had learned that the prosecutor liked a Facebook comment that criticized him, the Herald-Whig reported.

“I can’t be fair with you. Get out,” Adrian said.

The prosecutor later said the post merely supported victims’ rights.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.