'Plenty of punishment' judge faces ethics hearing for reversing rape conviction after questioning sentence
Judge Robert K. Adrian of Adams County, Illinois, is facing a disciplinary hearing that focuses on his decision to reverse a sexual assault conviction that he imposed in a bench trial allegedly because he did not want to impose a mandatory prison sentence. Image from Shutterstock.
Updated: An Illinois judge is facing a disciplinary hearing this week that focuses on his decision to reverse a sexual assault conviction that he imposed in a bench trial allegedly because he did not want to impose a mandatory prison sentence.
Judge Robert K. Adrian of Adams County, Illinois, said in a January 2022 court hearing the sexual assault defendant had received “plenty of punishment” after spending 148 days in jail. But the law didn’t allow a time-served sentence, he said.
He then found that the prosecution had not proved its case and reversed the conviction that he had imposed.
In a Jan. 26 amended complaint, the Illinois Courts Commission alleges that Adrian’s reversal amounted to willful misconduct in office, conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice, and conduct that brings the judicial office into disrepute.
The 18-year-old defendant, Drew Clinton, was accused of sexually assaulting 16-year-old Cameron Vaughan at a graduation party in summer 2021. Vaughan, who is now 18, agreed that the Chicago Tribune could identify her for its story. She also spoke with the Muddy River News, which also identified her.
Vaughan had testified that she got drunk, left the party and fell asleep on a friend’s couch. She said she awoke with a pillow pushed in her face as Clinton sexually assaulted her.
Clinton maintains that Vaughan gave consent and was aware of the sexual encounter.
After Adrian reversed his verdict, the Chicago Tribune reports, he went on to criticize parents and adults who allow such parties for teenagers. The adults allow liquor to be served to underage people and allow teens to “swim in their underwear in their swimming pool. And, no, underwear is not the same as swimming suits,” Adrian said.
Vaughan told the Chicago Tribune that Adrian “blamed every single person for what happened, except Drew.”
The disciplinary complaint also claims that Adrian gave false testimony to the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board when he said he reversed himself because prosecutors had not proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt. He also falsely testified that his reversal was not an effort to “thwart the law,” the complaint said.
The complaint also alleges that Adrian ordered a prosecutor to leave his courtroom because the prosecutor liked a comment on a social media post that criticized the judge.
“I can’t be fair with you. Get out,” Adrian allegedly said.
Adrian was temporarily reassigned to civil cases after he reversed the conviction. He has since narrowly won a retention election, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Vaughan no longer lives in Quincy, Illinois. She lives with her boyfriend in Missouri near her grandmother and works as a waitress, according to the Muddy River News. She said she would be attending Adrian’s hearing and hopes that it will give her closure.
“Hopefully, he gets his position taken away from him,” she told the Muddy River News. “He’s an awful person in my eyes. He does not deserve to be a judge at all.”
Updated Jan. 2 at 9:18 a.m. to change a reference to the prosecutor allegedly ordered to leave Judge Robert K. Adrian’s courtroom.