Judge Tosses Teen’s Guilty Verdict At Sentencing In Sex Assault Case, Admonishes ‘Adults’ For Allowing Debauchery At Party | Beaufort County Now | A judge in Illinois tossed a guilty verdict in a sexual assault case for an 18-year-old male facing a mandatory minimum of four years at sentencing after hearing arguments on two post-trial motions.
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A judge in Illinois tossed a guilty verdict in a sexual assault case for an 18-year-old male facing a mandatory minimum of four years at sentencing after hearing arguments on two post-trial motions.
Adams County Judge Robert Adrian said the nearly five months the defendant, Drew S. Clinton, served in county jail was "plenty of punishment" for "what happened in this case."
Notably, DNA evidence confirmed the accuser did not have semen inside of her and the defense attorney in the case, highlighting transcript from the trial, said the accuser's accounts changed concerning her recollection of giving consent.
The judge also admonished "adults" who apparently facilitated or allowed the party where the alleged incident took place to happen, noting of underaged kids being served liquor and "coeds and female people" "swim[ming] in their underwear in their swimming pool."
Clinton defense attorney Drew Schnack said Judge Adrian "acknowledged" that his client shouldn't have been found guilty in the first place, while prosecution suggested the alleged victim spoke out for nothing.
"Mr. Clinton has served almost five months in the county jail, 148 days," Judge Adrian said, according to Herald-Whig reporting. "For what happened in this case, that is plenty of punishment. That would be a just sentence."
The judge reportedly noted that Clinton, who is now 18 years old, had no prior criminal record.
The 16-year-old accuser said last May that Clinton raped her at a graduation party. "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 WGEM.
"I asked him to stop multiple times and he wouldn't," the girl claimed. "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."
Schnack said in a video interview that his client waived his Miranda rights and spoke with authorities without counsel when he was first arrested. His story never changed. The attorney also emphasized that DNA evidence shows Clinton's semen was not inside of the accuser.
Judge Adrian reportedly railed at the adults who should have been supervising the kids.
"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," he said after announcing his ruling. "And, no, underwear is not the same as swimming suits. It's just - they allow 16-year-old to bring liquor to a party. They provide liquor to underage people, and you wonder how these things happen."
"Well, that's how these things happen," the judge added. "The Court is totally disgusted with that whole thing."
Schnack said Judge Adrian "acknowledged that he should have found Clinton not guilty from the start," the Herald-Whig reported.
"The only evidence of what went on in that room for that three- or four-hour period of time was the girl saying couldn't remember or didn't know, and (Clinton) who was interviewed by the police when they first picked him up and gave a long, long statement and who testified in court," the attorney said. "His statement has never changed."
Adams County Assistant State's Attorney Anita Rodriguez said the turnaround from the judge was the first she's seen in all her decades in court.
"My heart is bleeding for the victim," Rodriguez said of her client. "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."
Rodriguez emphasized that her client claims she never gave consent for the sexual encounter and woke up with a pillow being pushed on her face. "In fact, earlier in the evening she had specifically indicated that she did not want any sexual contact with this defendant," the prosecutor said.
In a victim-impact statement, the accuser said Clinton took advantage of her while she was unconscious at a party. "This wasn't a one-time mistake made by a guy who misinterpreted the night," she said. "You saw me unconscious and took the chance that I wouldn't wake up and if I did wouldn't be believed."
The statement continued, "Unlike so many other girls whose cries for help weren't heard mine was. And it doesn't matter what I was wearing that night or the fact that I was drinking. You took advantage of an unconscious girl and there was ZERO consent given that night."
The accuser's stepmom suggested the judge was victim-blaming.
"He put the blame on the victim, and he erased everything that we have put her through counseling for," the stepmom said, adding, "She's depressed. She's sad, and she's already attempted suicide because of what (Clinton) did to her anyway, so we are just terrified."
"And he may not have meant what he said, the way that he said it, but the way that several people interpreted it was 'It's your fault. You got drunk. It's your fault. You went skinny dipping. It's your fault,'" the accuser's father said.
"We're not trying to ruin an 18-year-old's life like that," the dad added. "I get it. You made a bad choice. It's a choice that has destroyed my daughter."
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