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An Illinois judge was booted from a criminal court docket in Adams County on Thursday after he exploded at a prosecutor whose approving nod on Facebook to sexual assault survivors he took as a personal attack.
Judge Robert Adrian’s assignment change comes after he was widely condemned for reversing a ruling in a teen rape case. He subsequently kicked trial attorney Josh Jones of the Adams County State’s Attorney’s Office out of his courtroom on Wednesday for “liking” a Facebook post that criticized the ruling.
Judge Frank McCartney, the chief judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit, filed an administrative order that bumped Adrian to small claims, legal matters and probate dockets, as well as other civil cases, effective immediately, the Herald-Whig reported.
Adrian’s criminal court docket would be assigned to another judge until further notice, McCartney told the Herald-Whig.
McCartney had foreshadowed the move when he said he was “made aware of the situation” on Wednesday morning and then made the trip to Quincy, Illinois that same day to review some of Adrian’s comments, according to the Muddy River News.
“There are going to be some things done over the next few days and weeks that will hopefully alleviate some of the issues,” he told the outlet late Wednesday afternoon, declining to comment further.
He did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment on Friday.
In October, Adrian found 18-year-old Drew Clinton guilty of criminal sexual assault for raping 16-year-old Cameron Vaughan at a graduation party in May 2021.
“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.”
But Adrian sensationally tossed out Clinton’s conviction this month, ranting that adults abandoned their parental responsibilities and lecturing about swimming pool attire.
“This is what’s happened when parents do not exercise their parental responsibilities, when we have people, adults, having parties for teenagers, and they allow coeds and female people to swim in their underwear in their swimming pool,” Adrian said, according to a copy of the transcript from the Jan. 3 sentencing hearing. “And, no, underwear is not the same as swimming suits.”
“They provide liquor to underage people, and you wonder how these things happen,” he added.
Clinton had served 148 days in the Adams County Jail and was staring down a minimum mandatory sentence of four years before Adrian’s baffling reversal.
Adrian said that nearly five months in jail was a “just sentence” for the young man, who had just turned 18, when he changed the verdict from guilty to not guilty.
Assistant Adams County State’s Attorney Anita Rodriguez, who prosecuted the case, said that the reversal was unprecedented in her decades-long career.
“I’ve been prosecuting for over 40 years—first in Kansas, and for the last almost 34-and-a-half years in this office,” Rodriguez said Tuesday, according to Muddy River News. “I’ve never even seen anything close to that. Frankly, I’m without words to explain. I have no explanation for what happened.”
Then on Wednesday morning, as his shock reversal made national headlines, Adrian ordered Josh Jones to leave his courtroom for “liking” a post on Facebook that criticized the ruling.
“I’m not on social media, but my wife is,” Adrian fumed. “She saw the thumbs up you gave to people attacking me. I can’t be fair with you today. Get out.”
Adrian previously declined The Daily Beast’s request for comment about the outburst, citing a Supreme Court rule that urges judges to abstain from public comment about pending or impending proceedings. He didn’t immediately respond for comment about his reassignment on Friday.
The post that Jones had “liked” came from a local domestic abuse organization which 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 the statement.
McCartney on Thursday also ordered several cases prosecuted by Jones be transferred away from Adrian to different judges in the circuit. For cases going to jury trial, the Herald-Whig reported, McCartney ordered that all judges except Adrian be assigned to hear the case.
In the aftermath of Adrian’s outburst, Jones told Muddy River News that he believed his activity supporting victims’ rights on Facebook had been fairly benign.
“We obviously have to and want to support victims in all cases,” he told the outlet this week. “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.”
Adams County State’s Attorney Gary Farha issued a statement on Thursday defending Jones.
“I want to reiterate that none of my prosecutors did anything unethical or inappropriate. I am proud of the work that my assistants do and their fight to ensure justice for the victims of all crimes. Our office will have no further comment beyond referring to our previous statements,” he wrote.
The focus, he added, should remain on Vaughan for “enduring a trauma beyond what should be required of anyone and a system that traumatized her and victimized her again.”
“She did nothing to warrant this attack. She is deserving of our support. She is worthy of our respect,” he wrote.