On Tuesday, November 7, 2023, the ABA Journal reported that Judge Robert K. Adrian of Adams County, Illinois, is facing a disciplinary hearing for reversing a sexual assault conviction he had previously imposed. The judge is accused of willful misconduct in office, conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, and conduct that brings the judicial office into disrepute.
The case involves an 18-year-old defendant, Drew Clinton, who was accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl, Cameron Vaughan, at a graduation party in the summer of 2021. Vaughan testified that she got drunk, left the party, and fell asleep on a friend’s couch, where Clinton sexually assaulted her. Clinton maintains that Vaughan gave consent and was aware of the sexual encounter.
Adrian initially found Clinton guilty and imposed a sentence, but later reversed his decision, stating that the prosecution had not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. The judge’s reversal has been criticized, with some accusing him of blaming everyone except Clinton for the assault.
The disciplinary complaint against Adrian also alleges that he gave false testimony to the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board, denying that his reversal was an effort to thwart the law. Adrian has been temporarily reassigned to civil cases and has since narrowly won a retention election.
Vaughan, who no longer lives in Quincy, Illinois, plans to attend Adrian’s disciplinary hearing and hopes that it will bring her closure. She believes that Adrian does not deserve to be a judge.