Adams County Judge Robert Adrian reversed his own verdict and ruled that prosecutors failed to prove Drew Clinton, 18, sexually assaulted Cameron Vaughan, 16, saying 148 days in custody in county jail was enough of a punishment for the teen
An Illinois judge has reversed his own decision to convict a teen accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in May, saying 148 days in custody in county jail was ‘plenty of punishment.’
Adams County Judge Robert Adrian, 64, said it would not be right to sentence Drew Clinton, 18, to prison for raping Cameron Vaughan, 16, during a graduation party in Quincy on May 30, 2021.
‘By law, the court is supposed to sentence this young man to the Department of Corrections. This court will not do that. That is not just,’ Judge Adrian said on January 3.
‘There is no way for what happened in this case that this teenager should go to the Department of Corrections. I will not do that.’
Rather than carry out the minimum four-year sentence for sexual assault after finding Clinton guilty in an October bench trial, Judge Adrian instead ruled that the prosecutors had failed to prove their case, effectively setting Clinton, who now lives in Michigan, free and hindering any chance for prosecutors to appeal the decision or retry him – meaning Clinton can’t be charged again under the rules of double jeopardy.
The defense had asked for a bench trial, which the prosecutor would have had to agree to.
A bench trial is when a judge takes on the jury’s role as factfinder and rules on the court proceedings, and then hears the evidence and decides whether the defendant is guilty or not. It is not uncommon for rape cases involving minors to go to bench trial due to the cases’ sensitive nature.
Vaughan, who broke her silence on Tuesday and publicly identified herself as the victim to WGEM TV in Illinois, said the judge’s decision made her fight for justice seem pointless.
She told the DailyMail.com that Judge Adrian ‘is not suited to do his job.’
‘Drew should be in prison if it wasn’t for that stupid judge. His decision is unexplainable.’
‘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 told the station.
‘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.’
During the trial, Judge Adrian ultimately blamed parents for what happened at the party and suggested sexual assault was only natural when parents hold ‘parties for teenagers, and they allow coeds and female people to swim in their underwear in their swimming pool.’
‘They allowed 16-year-olds to bring liquor to a party. They provided liquor to underage people, and you wonder how these things happen. Well, that’s how these things happen,’ the judge said.
Cameron Vaughan, of Quincy, said she was sleeping on a coach at a graduation party when Drew Clinton assaulted her. She said the judge’s decision to not sentence Clinton left her feeling like she spoke out for nothing
Drew Clinton, pictured on the Quincy High School football freshman team in 2017, was accused of sexually assaulting Vaughan on May 30
Vaughan’s father, Scott, (left) said the judge’s decision has left his daughter devastated. He said that while his daughter enjoyed school and running on the cross country team, she has now dropped all sports and cannot bring herself to return to school
During the trial, Judge Adrian ultimately blamed parents for what happened at the party and suggested sexual assault was only natural when parents hold ‘parties for teenagers, and they allow coeds and female people to swim in their underwear in their swimming pool’
Judge Adrian’s reversal has left the community outraged and Vaughan devastated.
‘He made it seem like I fought for nothing, and that I put my word out there for no reason,’ Vaughan told WGEM.
‘I immediately had to leave the courtroom and go to the bathroom. I was crying.’
Vaughan also recounted what occurred at the graduation party at a friend’s house, where she said she made the mistake of getting blackout drunk at the party.
She said while parents were inside the house, the teens were drinking alcohol outside and swimming around in a pool.
Vaughan told the DailyMail.com her friends helped bring her inside later in the night and she fell asleep on a coach.
She said that’s when Clinton, who played on the Quincy High School football team, assaulted her.
Cameron said she had to get a rape kit test the next day, as well as be treated for alcohol poisoning.
On Facebook, Vaughan wrote that what Judge Adrian did was even worse than what Clinton allegedly did.
‘Judge Adrian basically said it was me and my parents fault that drew raped me, Vaughan wrote.
‘[He] took his side on everything. The the DNA evidence, him admitting to it, and all the proof and yet drew Clinton is free. He is a walking rapist let free because of judge Adrian.’
Her father, Scott Vaughan, said his daughter has been devastated ever since the sexual assault and feels heartbroken by the judge’s surprise decision.
‘She was a cross-country runner, she ran in track, she was an honor roll student,’ he told WGEM.
‘Now, she’s lucky to carry a C average and she’s dropped out of all sports. All of her learning is at home now. She can’t go to school.’
Cameron Vaughan added that she was taking classes remotely because when she was at school, people would bring up her case and some would even go on to blame her for what happened.
She said that while Clinton has been set free, she doesn’t want other victims to be discouraged from speaking up.
‘It’s scary to come out and talk about this, especially when a judge make this kind of decision,’ Cameron told DailyMail.com
‘What happened to me isn’t something that happens, and we have to keep fighting for justice.’
The hashtag #StandWithCammy calls on justice for Cameron Vaughan and to hold Judge Robert Adrian accountable for his decision to change the verdict of her accused rapist
Vaughan said she was taking classes remotely because when she was at school, people would bring up her case and some would even go on to blame her for what happened
Scott fired back against the judge following the ruling, telling Muddy River News: ‘What a low blow. You have just basically not given my daughter any justice.
‘I have sat by my daughter’s bedside for three, four months, five months. … She is not well from this. Way too many things happened to say this did not happen. While this guy’s ripping me, as a parent, what was I supposed to do?
‘Was my 16-year-old daughter drinking under the age at a graduation party that I was unaware of? Absolutely. Were a bunch of these girls swimming in a pool in their underwear? Yep. Is that a terrible mistake? Yes. Did [Clinton] make a mistake? Sure. Would he take it back if he could? Probably. But the fact is, he still violated her without her permission.
‘Pardon my language, but I feel like I was s**t all over by this judge.’
Defense attorney Drew Schnack defended the judge and said he was simply doing his job.
‘Judges make mistakes all the time. Maybe he made a mistake with his original ruling. Maybe he made a mistake with a second ruling. But he’s got to do the best he can with what he’s got,’ Schnack told Muddy River News.
Schnack did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s after-hours request for comment.
Assistant State’s Attorney Anita Rodriguez, who prosecutes sex crimes for the county and was representing Cameron Vaughan, told the Herald-Whig that she has never seen a decision like this in her 40-years as a lawyer.
‘My heart is bleeding for the victim,’ Rodriguez said. ‘It was a very difficult bench trial. It did a lot for her healing process, but now she’s back to where we were at.’
Her office did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s after-hours request for comment.
This is not the first time Judge Adrian has been embroiled in controversy.
He had previously faced challenges in 2019 for a decision he made in a 2015 homicide case, when he allowed a jury to hear about a homicide suspect’s attempt to steal a handgun in Quincy days before he shot two people.
An Illinois Appellate Court ultimately ruled on Adrian’s favor.
On Wednesday, Adrian threw out Adams County prosecutor Josh Jones during regular court proceedings for ‘liking’ a Facebook post that criticized the judge over the Vaughan case.
The judge’s reversal earlier this month faced immediate ire from advocates of survivors of sexual abuse, calling his actions abuse of power.
Assistant State’s Attorney Anita Rodriguez (left) said she was shocked at Judge Adrian’s decision. Defense attorney Drew Schnack said the judge was just doing his job
The local Quincy Area Network Against Domestic Abuse criticized Adrian’ decision on Facebook. Adams County prosecutor Josh Jones liked the post on Tuesday, leading Adrian to kick the lawyer out of court on Wednesday
A Change.org petition has gathered more than 7,000 signatures as of Wednesday night to file charges against Adrian for ‘abuse of judicial discretion and power.’
‘Judge Adrian does not have the authority to change the law because he wants to. His job is to uphold and defend the law,’ the petition reads.
‘The sexual assault this young girl experienced is egregious in and of itself – but what Judge Adrian has said and done to not only this survivor but to ALL current and future sexual assault survivors and their loved ones is an irreconcilable deviation from both the spirit and the letter of the law.
‘If he does not have faith and consistency in his own rulings, there is no reason for the public to respect his continuance in the position of power as an authority of the law.’
The local Quincy Area Network Against Domestic Abuse also slammed Judge Adrian through a Facebook post on Tuesday, writing: ‘The verdict and Adrian’s comments send a chilling message to other rape victims that their behavior, not the rapists’, will be judged. Shame the victims, free the rapists.’
The post was liked by Adams County prosecutor Josh Jones, who was thrown out of court on Wednesday by Judge Adrian for liking it, Muddy River News reported.
‘Mr. Jones, get out,’ Adrian said, startling the prosecutor who was in court for status hearings on a series of felony cases.
‘I’m not on social media, but my wife is,’ Adrian said. ‘She saw the thumbs up you gave to people attacking me.
‘I can’t be fair with you today. Get out.’
Jones told Muddy Rivers News that he was merely supporting victim’s rights and had expressed no ill will towards the judge.
‘We obviously have to and want to support victims in all cases,’ he said.
‘I have not made any comment publicly, privately or otherwise about Judge Adrian and the decision. I’m not going to. That’s not my role.’
Judge Adrian’s office did not immediately return DailyMail.com’s after-hours request for comment.