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Illinois judge is reassigned after overturning sexual assault conviction

An Illinois judge has been removed from presiding over criminal cases following his decision to reverse a man's sexual assault conviction.

According to the Herald-Whig, Judge Frank McCartney, chief judge of Illinois' Eighth Judicial Circuit, removed Adams County Judge Robert Adrian from the criminal court docket last week. Adrian will now preside over small claims, legal matters and probate dockets, along with other civil cases, the paper reported.

In October, Adrian found Drew Clinton, 18, guilty on one count of criminal sexual assault. Clinton faced a minimum of four years in prison. But earlier this month Adrian overturned the conviction and the mandatory sentencing that would have come with it.

Clinton had been found guilty of digitally penetrating a 16-year-old girl without her consent. Before his conviction was overturned, Clinton had spent 148 nights in jail, which Adrian said was "plenty of punishment" and a "just sentence" for what happened in this case.

Adrian said that it would not be just to send Clinton to the Illinois Department of Corrections.

"This happened when this teenager — because he was and is a teenager, was two weeks past 18 years old," Adrian said in court. "He has no prior record, none whatsoever. 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."

The judge also criticized the parents who allowed the party to take place and gave alcohol to those who were underage.

"I cannot believe that adults that were involved in this case ... took their responsibilities so lightly for these teenage kids," Adrian said. "This is what's happened when parents do not exercise their parental responsibilities, when we have people, adults, having parties for teenagers, and they allow coeds and female people to swim in their underwear in their swimming pool."

Outrage swiftly followed Adrian's decision and comments, including from the girl who reported the assault.

"He made me seem like I fought for nothing and that I put my word out there for no reason," she told WGEM-TV. "I immediately had to leave the courtroom and go to the bathroom. I was crying."

She said the reported assault happened when she was unconscious last summer during Memorial Day weekend after being intoxicated at a graduation party. Recounting what she said in court, she told WGEM that she woke up at her friend's house "with a pillow over my face so I couldn't be heard and Drew Clinton inside of me."

Her father told WGEM that he doesn't feel there has been justice served in this case and that his daughter, once an honor roll student and athlete, now has C average grades and has dropped out of all sports.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Wynne Davis is a digital reporter and producer for NPR's All Things Considered.

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