'Known Christian conservative' judge says his ouster over sexual assault reversal was 'total political hit job'

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A judge who declared that a sexual assault defendant had “plenty of punishment” before reversing the conviction has been removed from the bench. (Image from Shutterstock)

A judge who declared that a sexual assault defendant had “plenty of punishment” before reversing the conviction has been removed from the bench.

Judge Robert K. Adrian, 66, of Adams County, Illinois, was ousted by the Illinois Courts Commission in a Feb. 23 opinion, report the Associated Press, the Chicago Tribune and the Muddy River News.

Adrian told the Muddy River News that he reversed the conviction of Drew Clinton because he was not guilty. The commission’s decision was “a total political hit job,” Adrian said.

Adrian told the Chicago Tribune that the commission’s decision was “totally a miscarriage of justice.” He said what he did was right, and he has always told the truth about it. Adrian said there is a “two-tiered justice system for conservative Republicans in Illinois,” and he was targeted because he’s “a known Christian conservative.”

In a January 2022 hearing, Adrian said Clinton had received “plenty of punishment” after spending 148 days in jail and reversed the youth’s conviction. Illinois sentencing law required Clinton to spend four years in prison. Adrian had initially convicted Clinton, who was 18 years old when he was charged, in a bench trial in October 2021.

Clinton’s sexual assault conviction was for placing his finger in the vagina of a 16-year-old victim at a graduation party when she was unable to give knowing consent. Adrian initially acquitted Clinton on two other counts alleging vaginal penetration with his penis.

The victim had testified that she got drunk, fell asleep and awoke with a pillow pushed in her face as Clinton sexually assaulted her.

During the January 2022 hearing, Adrian said he can’t sentence Clinton to time served, which would be a just sentence. But he can reconsider his verdict and find Clinton not guilty, he said. He also criticized parents for having parties for teenagers, allowing them to swim in their underwear, and allowing them to bring liquor to a party.

“The court is totally disgusted with that whole thing,” he said.

Before the hearing, Adrian asked the defense attorney in an ex parte conversation whether he had spoken to the state’s attorney about the possibility of a plea agreement, the commission’s decision said. The defense lawyer replied that the prosecutor was not willing to do that. Adrian also spoke with the state’s attorney alone about any plea deal.

Adrian told the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board that he reversed the sentence because prosecutors had failed to prove that the victim was unable to prove consent. He said his “plenty of punishment” comment meant that the jail term would have been proper if Clinton had been charged with a different offense.

The Illinois Courts Commission said Adrian’s justification for the reversal was a “subterfuge.” Adrian’s conduct, his comments at the sentencing hearing, and his reversal order “are clear and convincing evidence that [Adrian] reversed his guilty finding to thwart and circumvent the law that required him to impose a mandatory prison term upon Clinton,” the commission said.

The commission found that Adrian gave “misleading and deceptive explanations regarding his true reasons for reversing himself,” demonstrating “an utter disregard for the integrity of the judiciary.”

The commission also said Adrian violated ethics rules when he ordered a prosecutor to leave his courtroom for liking a social media post that criticized Adrian’s reversal. The prosecutor has accepted Adrian’s apology and later appeared in front of Adrian.

Several lawyers who testified said Adrian was knowledgeable in the law and had a reputation for being fair and serving with integrity. There were no other complaints or discipline against Adrian during his 13 years on the bench.

The 16-year-old girl who accused Clinton told the Chicago Tribune after Adrian’s ouster that 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.”

See also:

“‘Plenty of punishment’ judge faces ethics hearing for reversing rape conviction after questioning sentence”

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