Groups are set to gather in Quincy on Thursday to protest an Adams County Judge’s ruling in a sexual assault case.
The Stand with Cammy movement is hosting a peaceful protest of Judge Robert Adrian’s reversal of Drew Clinton’s sexual assault conviction. Scheduled to attend the protest are Carrie Ward, chief executive officer of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault; Megan Duesterhaus, executive director of the Quincy Area Network Against Domestic Abuse (QUANADA); and Cameron Vaughan, the name sake of the movement and Clinton’s victim in the case, along with her father Scott Vaughan.
Duesterhaus says that the Stand with Cammy group is an off-shoot of Quanada: “The Stand with Cammy group – we have a steering committee. On the steering committee, I have my board president, myself, and my executive advocate actually sit on that committee. The rest of the committee is just grassroots community volunteers who really wanted to come forward and do more. They want to take action and be the driving push to keep momentum going so that we don’t just become complacent and allow the situation to fade away and prevent it from happening again because we didn’t do enough the first time.”
After finding the 18-year-old Clinton guilty of one count of criminal sexual assault during a bench trial on October 15th, Adrian reversed his decision at Clinton’s sentencing hearing on January 3rd and declared him not guilty. Adrian said the 148 days Clinton served in the Adams County Jail was “plenty of punishment” and released him from custody. Adrian also went on to blame parents for allowing alcohol to be served the night of the incident, and according to Adrian, allow teenagers present the night of the incident to run around in their underwear. Adrian’s comments from the bench drew international scrutiny from sexual assault victim advocates and victim organizations. Several groups characterized Adrian’s comments as victim shaming and victim blaming. Other groups said it was a prime example of why sexual assault and abuse never come forward to law enforcement.
Duesterhaus says the protest tomorrow will be highly organized and visible to the community: “At 11:30AM, we will be meeting at the John Wood statue in Washington Park here in Quincy. We have a march route mapped out that I believe will take us by some municipal buildings, the Adams County Courthouse, and it will be very organized, and a very peaceful protest, we anticipate with law enforcement present to ensure everybody’s safety, etc.”
The #StandywithCammy Movement was dealt a blow by the Illinois Supreme Court on March 3rd when the court rejected Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s mandamus complaint and a motion for supervisory order to have Clinton re-sentenced. The court rejected the request saying: “The double jeopardy clause prohibits further prosecution even where an acquittal is based on an egregiously erroneous foundation.” Raoul had taken up the case after Adams County State’s Attorney Gary Farha’s Office took the vacated conviction to the State Appellate Prosecutor’s Office in late January. Farha’s office had other interest in the case after Judge Adrian removed Adams County lead prosecutor Josh Jones from a courtroom in an unrelated case on January 12th after Jones’ had posted support for Vaughan on a social media post made by QUANADA.
Despite the ruling, the grassroots organization is pressing forward for a possible different avenue to have Adrian’s original guilty verdict reinstated. Duesterhaus says that one process is currently in motion to have Judge Adrian sanctioned: “We are not going to give up and say that it’s over and it doesn’t matter anymore. Judge Adrian is still sitting on the bench in the 8th Circuit, but we think that he should resign. We think that the harm he has caused this victim is beyond anything that he could do to repair it at this moment. The right thing for him to do is to remove himself from that position. I know that Cammy’s family has filed a complaint with the Judicial Review Board, which is the mechanism in place for filing a complaint against a judge in Illinois. That’s where it goes. There have been several other local community members that filed complaints very early on in January when the news first broke about this situation. I’m sure that the Judicial Review Board is aware that we have a situation here in Adams County and hopefully they will take that seriously. I believe they have the authority to enact some kind of sanctions and consequences for a judge who has lost the public’s trust.”
On January 13th, 8th Circuit Chief Judge J. Frank McCartney of Pike County removed Adrian from all criminal cases.
As of yesterday, a Change.org petition asking for Adrian to be held accountable for his decision has garnered over 175,000 signatures from around the world.