An Illinois judge had a shocking outburst in court Wednesday, kicking a prosecutor out with minimal explanation as outrage grows over the judge’s decision to reverse his own ruling on a teen accused of rape.
“Mr. Jones, get out,” Adams County Judge Robert Adrian fumed as he ordered Josh Jones of the Adams County State’s Attorney’s Office to leave the courtroom. The Muddy River News, whose journalist was in court, reported that Jones was set to appear in an unrelated case but had apparently “liked” a Facebook post supporting domestic violence survivors in the wake of Adrian’s extraordinary ruling in the rape case .
“I’m not on social media, but my wife is,” Adrian said. “She saw the thumbs up you gave to people attacking me.”
He added: “I can’t be fair with you today. Get out.”
Adrian declined The Daily Beast’s request for comment about the outburst on Wednesday, citing a Supreme Court rule that urges judges to abstain from public comment about pending or impending proceedings.
The move comes as critics slam Adrian for tossing out a sexual assault conviction for 18-year-old Drew Clinton, who allegedly stuffed a pillow in a girl’s face as he raped her at a graduation party in May last year.
Clinton’s accuser, 16-year-old Cameron Vaughan, broke her silence Tuesday days after Adams’ reversal on Jan. 3.
“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,” Vaughan said, according to WGEM. “I asked him to stop multiple times and he wouldn’t.”
After finally pushing him off, Vaughan said, Clinton jumped up to play video games “as if nothing had happened.”
During a bench trial in October, Clinton was found guilty of one count of criminal sexual assault. But last week, Adrian changed his mind and sensationally declared the teen “not guilty” during a sentencing hearing.
According to a copy of last week’s hearing transcript, the judge insisted that Clinton had a clean record before assaulting the girl, and had already endured “plenty of punishment” by spending 148 days in a county jail.
“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. “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.”
Illinois has a mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison for criminal sexual assault. But Adrian mused aloud that the nearly five months served was a “just sentence” and, apparently determined to keep Clinton for serving any longer, he switched to a not guilty verdict claiming that prosecutors had “failed to prove their case.”
Adrian parenthetically said adults at the party were to blame for Vaughan’s assault. He said they abandoned their parental duties and suggested that sexual assault is what happens when parents hold “parties for teenagers, and they allow coeds and female people to swim in their underwear in their swimming pool.”
Clinton’s lawyer couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.
Vaughan’s dad told the Herald-Whig last week that his daughter “feels like she spoke up for nothing.”
“Now she wishes she wouldn’t have even said anything,” he said.
But critics joined her and her family in slamming Adrian’s comments during the sentencing and his sudden reversal.
On Tuesday, a local domestic abuse organization said that “the judge apparently felt sorry for Clinton and not the victim.”
“He blamed everyone except Clinton,” Quincy Area Network Against Domestic Abuse’s board of directors wrote in a statement on Facebook.
Jones told the Muddy River News that Adrian threw him out of court Wednesday for simply “liking” the post on the group’s Facebook page. It also featured the group’s logo alongside text that read: “Hold rapists accountable.”
The group has since obtained thousands of signatures on a Change.org petition calling for charges to be filed against Adrian for “abuse of judicial discretion and power.”
The group said Adrian’s ruling was 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 group wrote.
Jones told Muddy River News that he believed he had taken a “pretty benign position” in supporting victims’ rights.
“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.”