Scott hoped Jan. 3 was a day that would help his 16-year-old daughter heal. Drew Clinton, the man convicted of raping her at a Memorial Day weekend graduation party, was due to face jail time in Adams County, Ill.
The 18-year-old was to spend at least four years behind bars under state law, after the court heard he held a pillow over his underage victim’s face and then raped her that she was unconscious.
Her victim (name withheld) had written a victim impact statement to read in court about how the sexual assault affected her life.
“She felt the conviction would one day be happier,” Scott said The independent. “Someday she could read her victim impact statement and see justice done.” “
But, in an explosive decision that shocked his family, prosecutors and legal experts, Judge Robert Adrian denied him this chance to heal.
The judge overturned Clinton’s conviction, allowing the 18-year-old to be released from prison without a criminal record, without probation and without being on the sex offender registry – just three months after he was convicted.
Based on his comments, the change in verdict was not based on any new evidence or a sudden change of mind that led the judge to rethink Clinton’s innocence.
Instead, the judge said he believed Clinton had already received “numerous penalties” after serving five months in the county while awaiting conviction, and that it would be “unfair” to do so. sentence to the minimum legal sentence of four years in prison for rape. .
“There is no way, as to what happened in this case, that this teenager would go to the Department of Corrections. I won’t, ”he said, according to the court transcript.
Judge Adrian said he could find the statutory sentence unconstitutional, but an appeals court would overturn his ruling and send Clinton to jail anyway.
“But what the court can do, because it was a bench trial, the court will find that people have not proven their case on count three,” he said declared.
“The court will reconsider its verdict, the court will find the accused not guilty.”
In an exclusive interview with The independent, the victim’s father is now speaking out against the judge for “muzzling” his 16-year-old daughter, and for revealing how “in just 15 minutes” Judge Adrian destroyed all the progress she had made to move forward in his life as a result of the sexual assault.
The October guilty verdict brought some “relief” to her daughter and meant that she was finally able to “start trying to heal,” Scott says. The judge’s overthrow has now “destroyed” that and sent it back to square one, he says.
“He destroyed everything we worked on to get my daughter to start healing… in just 15 minutes he destroyed everything,” he says.
“We were finally seeing her start to be more of herself again. The scar was there, and the scab was starting to heal, then the judge tore it off and we’re back to square one.
The judge blamed everyone except his daughter’s assailant for what happened to him, he said.
“It’s been a tough road, and then for the judge to spit in our face and blame my daughter and blame the parents and everyone else for what he did is totally unacceptable.” He adds: “You took my 16 year old daughter, who was starting to live with what had happened, and that meant she now had to start all over again.
Scott says he believes the judge did not deliver a verdict according to the law.
“Your job as a judge is to uphold the law, not to take justice into your own hands… you found him guilty,” he said. “Your job was to convict him, and because you couldn’t change the law, the only thing you could do was change the verdict. What gives you the right to do justice yourself? “
Scott says he wishes he could ask the judge what made him change his mind about the verdict. “How can you hand down a guilty verdict and then, three months later, decide to do it yourself and think it’s okay to let this child go?” ” he asks.
He points to the judge’s comments when delivering his ruling, when he appeared to blame the parents of the teenager who threw the party where the teens drank alcohol.
“They allowed 16-year-olds to bring alcohol to a party. They provided underage alcohol, and you wonder how these things happen. Well, that’s how these things happen, ”the judge said.
“Are these things happening? “, Scott said of the language used by the judge. “It’s absolutely stupid of him to say that.”
For Scott, the rejection of blame sends a dangerous message to other young women and men: that a rapist will not be held accountable when he is young and when there is alcohol.
“My 17 year old son was in the courtroom. He then turned to me and said, “So the judge says as long as I have a clean criminal record and I’m 18, I can get away with a sexual assault and whatnot. it’s not my fault. ” It is the fault of the minor victim for drinking. It’s the parents’ fault. It’s everyone’s fault except mine.
“My son’s comments really opened my eyes [to what the ruling meant],” he adds.
For victims of sexual assault, like his daughter, the judge sends a clear message that they should not speak out against their abusers, Scott says. “The judge only muzzled the victims. Why would they tell their story and go through it all without getting justice? “
Scott describes how, over the past eight months, his daughter has struggled to cope with what has happened to her. Rather than enjoying her senior year, she can no longer attend school in person because she fears that “people will chuckle, say she’s lying, call her the rape girl,” Scott says.
The former high school sports star has quit all of his sports, switched to distance learning and is “scared of dating people.”
“She can’t go to prom or do the things that she should be doing in her senior year,” Scott says. “It affected everything. “
The toll of the sexual assault on the 16-year-old girl came to a head when she tried to kill herself, he reveals. Scott recounts how he received a panicked phone call overnight from one of his daughter’s friends and rushed to his room. She was taken to hospital where she suffered multiple seizures.
When Scott found his daughter’s suicide note, he noticed that the only name she mentioned on it was Clinton.
“The suicide note contained only one name, Drew’s. He said: “I’m sorry I have to do this, I can’t live my life with this burden anymore… I hope Drew goes to jail for what he did,” he said.
“I sat by her bedside in the hospital for five days as she clung to life. Then she had to spend seven days in a local psychiatric unit to make sure that she would not be injured again. We knew it was affecting him massively, but we didn’t even know it was planned. I can’t imagine what went through her mind to think that was the only way out.
In addition to the sexual assault itself, the 16-year-old also had to go through legal proceedings after Clinton was charged with rape, Scott said. In the courtroom, she was forced to testify in court about the sexual assault, an ordeal which Scott says left her “ridiculed.”
“It was difficult for her because she is 16 and she was attacked by the defense. It was also the first time she had to look Drew in the face [after the assault],” he says.
To make matters worse, Scott says, he and his wife were unable to be in the courtroom to support her as they had also been subpoenaed by the defense. Neither was called to testify. “Then when the guilty verdict was handed down, there was just a feeling of relief,” Scott says. “Only to go through the pain and be worse than before.”
Scott says neither his daughter nor the rest of her family wanted or expected Clinton to receive the maximum possible sentence of 40 years. He says they were “100% on board” and he got the four-year minimum.
But now her daughter wishes she had never talked about the sexual assault in the first place.
“When we got home [after the sentencing hearing] she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said ‘I wish I had never said anything’, ”he said. “As a parent who destroyed me. It was devastating. She feels like she went through it all for nothing, and if she hadn’t said anything and buried, she wouldn’t have had to go through it all.
Due to the new verdict, she was also denied the opportunity to deliver her victim impact statement to court. Scott says it was “difficult” but that he, his wife and daughter each had written statements to tell their story. “We prepared ourselves mentally and never had the chance to read them,” he says.
Now, while Clinton is free because the judge ruled that five months was “a lot” of time for her punishment, Scott says his daughter has to live with what happened.
“He left the courtroom and goes home. She has to live with that for the rest of her life, ”he says. “And we have to live with that as a family. “
In light of the judge’s actions, Scott says his daughter no longer has legal avenues to seek justice. The only option would be a civil case, which, according to him, does not interest them because “it is not a question of money” and they “do not want to [his daughter] to cross over ”.
But, despite the outcome of the courts, Scott says he is “so proud” of his daughter for speaking out about what happened to her, and hopes she can inspire other survivors to refuse to remain silent.
“My message to the other survivors would be not to hide it,” he said. ” Do you speak. My daughter has been so confident in expressing herself and I have seen what happens when someone tries to hold her back. Even if you think no one is listening, I promise you someone is.
If you experience feelings of distress or find it difficult to cope, you can speak to the Samaritans, in confidence, at 116 123 (UK & ROI), email jo @ samaritans. org, or visit the Samaritans website to find the contact details of your nearest branch.
If you are based in the United States and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800- 273-TALK (8255). It is a free and confidential emergency line accessible to everyone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.
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