A western Illinois judge was widely criticized last week after he tossed the conviction for an 18-year-old man accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl, saying the 148 days he spent in jail was enough punishment.
As the disapproval mounted, Judge Robert Adrian ordered a prosecutor to leave the courtroom Wednesday because the prosecutor “liked” a post on social media that was critical of the judge, the Quincy Herald-Whig reported.
Chief Judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit Frank McCartney then removed Adrian from criminal cases Thursday, reassigning Adrian to small claims and civil cases, according to the newspaper.
The controversy started Jan. 3, when Adrian reversed a conviction for defendant Drew Clinton, who he had convicted of sexual assault during an October bench trial.
During that trial, Adrian heard evidence that a 16-year-old girl drank alcohol and passed out during a May 30 graduation party, then woke up to find Clinton sexually assaulting her.
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During the Jan. 3 sentencing, Adrian reversed the conviction and ruled that the prosecution failed to prove its case after the defense filed two post-trial motions.
“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,” Adrian said, according to a transcript of the hearing.
“Mr. Clinton has served almost five months in the county jail, 148 days. For what happened in this case, that is plenty of punishment. That would be a just sentence.”
Clinton was facing a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison in the case before the judge reversed the conviction.
The Quincy Area Network Against Domestic Abuse (QUANADA) called for Adrian to be removed from office after the ruling.
“Adrian’s dangerous and highly atypical conclusion to a sexual assault case demonstrates to assailants that they are above the law – even after they are convicted in a fair trial,” QUANADA said in a statement. “Anita Rodriguez, the prosecutor in the case, said she had never seen such a ruling in her 40-year career.”
A petition to “censure, suspend, and/or remove” Judge Adrian from the eighth judicial circuit reached more than 16,000 signatures by Thursday evening.
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The victim’s father told the Herald-Whig that his daughter has been struggling in the wake of the reversal.
“It’s worse now than it was (before), because not only does she not have her justice, but now she feels like she spoke up for nothing, and you know that hurts,” the father told the local newspaper. “Now she wishes she wouldn’t have even said anything.”
Clinton’s defense attorney, Drew Schnack, did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.