‘In 15 minutes he destroyed the healing’: Father blasts judge for overturning rape verdict

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JScott hoped January 3 would help his 16-year-old daughter heal.

Drew Clinton, the man convicted of raping her at a graduation party over Memorial Day weekend, was to be sentenced to prison in Adams County, Illinois.

The 18-year-old would spend at least four years behind bars under state law, after the court heard how he held a pillow to his underage victim’s face and raped her while she was unconscious.

His victim, who The Independent does not name, had written a victim impact statement to read in court about the impact of the sexual assault on her life.

“She felt sentencing would be a happier day,” Scott said. The Independent.

“A day when she could read her victim impact statement and have justice done for her.”

But, in a bombshell decision that shocked her family, prosecutors and legal experts, Judge Robert Adrian denied her that 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 placed on the sex offender registry – just three months after the same judge found him guilty.

Based on his comments, the judge’s reasoning for the change in verdict was not based on any new evidence or on a sudden reversal that caused him to rethink Clinton’s innocence.

Instead, the judge said he believed Clinton had already received ‘a lot of punishment’ after serving five months in the county jail awaiting sentencing and that it would ‘not be fair’ to sentence him the legal minimum of four years in prison for rape.

“There’s no way for what happened in this case that this teenager should go to the Department of Corrections. I won’t do that,” he said, according to the court transcript.

Judge Adrian said he could declare the legal sentence unconstitutional, but an appeals court would overturn his decision and send Clinton to jail anyway.

“But what the court can do, because it was a trial en banc, the court will find that the people have failed to prove their case on count 3,” he said. .

“The Court will reconsider its verdict, the Court will find the defendant not guilty.”

In an exclusive interview with The Independent, the victim’s father is now speaking out to castigate the judge for ‘muzzling’ his 16-year-old daughter and to reveal how ‘in just 15 minutes’ he destroyed all the progress she had made moving forward in her life in the aftermath of the sexual assault.

The October guilty verdict had brought some “relief” to her daughter and meant she was finally able to “start trying to heal”, Scott said.

The judge’s reversal has now “destroyed” that and sent her back to square one again, he said.

“He destroyed everything we worked on for my daughter to start healing…in just 15 minutes he destroyed it all,” he said.

“We were seeing her finally start to be a little more like herself again.

“The scar was there and the scab was starting to heal, then the judge ripped it off and we’re back to square one.”

The judge “spit in our faces”, he said, and blamed everyone but his daughter’s attacker for what happened to her.

“It’s been a tough road and then for the judge to spit in our faces and blame my daughter and blame the parents and everyone else for what he did is totally unacceptable,” he said.

He added: “You took my 16 year old daughter who was starting to live with what happened which meant she now had to start all over again.”

Scott said that rather than upholding the law, he feels the judge “took the law into his own hands.”

“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 yourself justice? ” He asked.

Scott said he wishes he could ask the judge what changed his mind about the verdict.

“How can you enter a guilty verdict and then, three months later, decide to take the law into your own hands and think it’s okay to let this kid go?” He asked.

He pointed to the judge’s comments when giving his ruling where he appeared to place the blame on the parents of the teenager who hosted the party where the teenagers were drinking alcohol.

“They allowed 16-year-olds to bring alcohol to a party. They provided alcohol to minors, and you wonder how these things happen. Well, that’s how these things happen,” Judge said.

“Do these things happen? Scott said of the language used by the judge.

“It’s absolutely stupid for him to say that.”

Drew Clinton was found guilty by the same judge in October

(QHS soccer)

For Scott, shifting blame sends a dangerous message to other young women and men that a rapist will not be held accountable when he is young and has consumed alcohol.

“My 17 year old son was in the courtroom. He turned to me afterwards and said, ‘So the judge is saying as long as I have a clean record and I’m 18, I can get away with sexual assault and this is not my fault. It’s the underage victim’s fault for drinking. It’s the parents’ fault. It’s everyone’s fault but mine.”

“My son’s comments really opened my eyes. [to what the ruling meant],” he added.

For victims of sexual assault, like his daughter, the judge sends a clear message that they should not report their attackers, he said.

“The judge only muzzled the victims. Why would they tell their story and submit to all of this without getting justice? he said.

Scott described how, over the past eight months, his daughter has struggled to come to terms with what has happened to her.

Rather than enjoying her senior year, she can no longer attend high school in person because “people would sneer, say she’s lying, call her the rapist,” Scott said.

The former high school sports star has given up all of his sports, switched to distance learning and is ‘afraid to hang out with people’.

“She can’t go to prom or do any of the things she should be doing in her senior year,” Scott said.

“It affected everything.”

The toll of the sexual assault on the 16-year-old girl came to a head when she attempted suicide, he revealed.

Scott recounted how he received a panicked phone call in the night from one of his daughter’s friends and rushed to his room.

She was taken to hospital where she suffered several 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 revealed.

“I sat by her bedside in the hospital for five days as she clung to life,” he said.

“Then she had to spend seven days in a local psychiatric unit to make sure she wouldn’t hurt herself again.

“We knew it was affecting him massively, but we had no idea it was even in the cards.

“I can’t imagine what went through his mind to think that was the only way out.”

In addition to the sexual assault itself, the 16-year-old also had the ordeal of going through the court process after Clinton was charged with rape, Scott said.

In the courtroom, she was forced to testify on the stand about the sexual assault, an ordeal which Scott said left her “ridiculously ridiculous”.

“It was tough for her because she’s 16 and she was attacked by the defence. It was also the first time she had to face Drew in the face. [after the assault],” he said.

To make matters worse, Scott said 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 came in, there was just a sense of relief,” Scott said.

“Only to go to condemnation and be worse than before.”

Scott said neither his daughter nor the rest of her family wanted or expected Clinton to go to jail for the maximum possible sentence of 40 years.

He said they were “100 per cent OK” with him getting the four-year minimum.

But now her daughter wishes she had never spoken out 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, it destroyed me. It was devastating.

“She feels like she went through it all for nothing and if she hadn’t said and buried it, she wouldn’t have had to go through it all.”

Due to the new verdict, she was also deprived of the opportunity to submit her victim impact statement to the court.

Scott said it had been “difficult”, but he, his wife and his daughter had each been questioned and written statements to tell their story.

“We prepared ourselves mentally and never had the chance to read them,” he said.

Now, with Clinton free because the judge ruled five months was “a long time” for her punishment, Scott said his daughter had to live with what happened for the rest of her life.

“He is out of the courtroom and can go home. She has to live with that for the rest of her life,” he said.

“And we have to live with that as a family.”

In light of the judge’s actions, Scott said his daughter had no legal recourse to seek justice.

The only option would be a civil case, which he says doesn’t interest them because “it’s not about the money” and they “don’t want to [his daughter] cross more”.

But, despite the court result, Scott said he was “so proud” that his daughter spoke out about what happened to her and hopes she can inspire other survivors to refuse to keep quiet.

“My message to other survivors would be not to hide it,” he said.

” Speak. My daughter has shown such confidence to speak and I’ve seen what happens when someone tries to hold her back.

“Even if you think no one is listening to you, I promise you someone is.”

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or if you are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can talk to someone for free by phone, confidentially, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), by email [email protected], or visit the Samaritans website for contact details of the 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). The Helpline is a free and confidential support line available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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