Recent Reversal of Sexual Assault Conviction By Adams County Judge Draws National Attention

By Benjamin Cox on January 13, 2022 at 10:25am

A recent conviction vacated by an Adams County judge is drawing national attention and anger.

Adams County Judge Robert Adrian reversed his own conviction last week of 18 year old Drew Cameron of one count of criminal sexual assault from a bench trial held on October 15th. According to the Quincy Herald Whig and WGEM, at a sentencing hearing on Jan. 3rd, Cameron’s attorney made a pair of motions to the court, saying that a mandatory minimum sentence imposed by state statute would be inappropriate.

According to transcripts from the hearing obtained by the Herald Whig, Adrian said that the time Clinton had served in the Adams County Jail was enough punishment. Cameron had served 148 days in the Adams County Jail since his arrest. Adrian says per the transcript, “For what happened in this case, that is plenty of punishment.” Cameron was facing a minimum of 4 years in prison in the case.

Adrian went on to dole out harsh criticism at the parents who held the May 30th graduation party where the alleged assault happened, scolding them for letting minors drink alcohol and swim in a pool at the party in only their underwear. According to the 16 year old victim’s testimony, she was sexually assaulted after she had passed out at the party and woke up with a pillow over her face and Cameron on top of her. She eventually was able to push Cameron off of her and leave, eventually telling a friend and then her father about the incident. Her father called police shortly after learning about the assault.

On Tuesday, the Quincy Area Network Against Domestic Abuse (Quanada) issued a statement blasting Adrian’s decision and his comments during the hearing: “The verdict and Adrian’s comments send a chilling message to other rape victims that their behavior, not the rapists’, will be judged. Shame the victims, free the rapists. This judgment reinforces the fact that standards for women have always been impossibly high while they are impossibly low for men.” The statement goes on to say that justice was not done in the case.

The Crisis Center Foundation located in Jacksonville posted similar criticism on their Facebook Page yesterday: “For the reprehensible precedent Judge Adrian has set by not upholding the law, we ask that you censure, suspend, and/or remove him from his position in the Eighth Circuit Court in Illinois.” The post shares a petition from Quanada asking signers to agree to a petition to file charges against Adrian “for Abuse of Judicial Discretion and Power.” The case has now reached international attention, drawing a by-line in the Washington Post yesterday, and The Independent in the United Kingdom, as well as ABC News, The Daily Beast, Newsweek, and the New York Post.

The disdain for Adrian’s ruling has now spilled over onto other cases in his courtroom.

WGEM and the Herald Whig report that Adrian told Josh Jones, the lead trial attorney for the Adams County State’s Attorney’s Office, to leave his courtroom yesterday. According to the report, Adrian said that his wife had seen where Jones had liked a Facebook comment attacking Adrian about the Cameron ruling and asked him to leave the court. According to the report Adrian said: “I’m not on social media, but my wife is. She saw the thumbs up you gave to people attacking me. I can’t be fair with you. Get out.” According to the Herald Whig, Jones had liked a post on Quanada’s Facebook Page.

Adams County State’s Attorney Gary Farha told the Herald-Whig he was “mystified” with what happened in court. Farha told the Herald Whig that his office had never had trouble with Adrian in the past and that his office would be handling the situation internally. The exchange happened while Jones was appearing for the Natasha McBride first degree murder case. McBride is charged in connection with a 2020 crash that killed a Rushville grandmother and her three infant grandchildren. WGEM says that court proceeded normally after Jones’ exited, but Adrian was not on the bench later in the morning for cases that had been assigned to his docket.

Chief Judge of the 8th Judicial Circuit, J. Frank McCartney of Pike County, told Muddy River News he drove to Quincy yesterday to review Adrian’s comments and address the issue: “I was made aware of the situation Wednesday morning. There are going to be some things done over the next few days and weeks that will hopefully alleviate some of the issues. I can’t comment any further than that right now.”

The 8th Judicial Circuit holds jurisdiction over Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Mason, Menard, Pike, and Schuyler counties. Adrian has been on the bench in Adams County since 2010.