Scott hoped January 3 would be a day to help heal his 16-year-old daughter. Drew Clinton, a man found guilty of raping her at a prom on Remembrance Day, is said to have been sentenced to prison in Adams County, Illinois.
The 18-year-old is said to have spent at least four years behind bars under state law after a court heard him holding a pillow over the face of his underage victim and raping her when she was unconscious.
His victim (name withheld) wrote a statement about the impact on the victim to read to the court how the sexual assault affected her life.
“She thought the conviction would be a happier day,” Scott says The Independent. “The day she will be able to read her statement on the victim’s influence and that her right will be exercised.”
But in a ruling that shocked her family, prosecutors and legal professionals, Judge Robert Adrian denied her the chance to recover.
A judge overturned Clinton’s conviction and allowed the 18-year-old to leave prison with no criminal record, no suspended sentence and no entry in the sex offender registry – just three months after he was found guilty.
According to his remarks, the change in the verdict was not based on any new evidence or a sudden change of opinion that led the judge to reconsider Clinton’s innocence.
Instead, the judge said he believed Clinton had already received “many sentences” after serving five months in county jail while awaiting sentencing, and that it would be “not only” to sentence him to a statutory minimum of four years in prison for rape. .
“For what happened in this case, there is no chance that this teenager would go to the penitentiary department. I will not do that, “he said after the court record.
Judge Adrian said he could find the statutory sentence unconstitutional, but that the appellate court would overturn his verdict 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 claim in point three,” he said.
“The court will reconsider the verdict, the court will find that the accused is not guilty.”
In an exclusive interview with The Independent, the victim’s father now says he would judge the judge for “jamming” his 16-year-old daughter, and revealed how “in just 15 minutes” Judge Adrian ruined all the progress she had made to move on with her life. . after sexual assault.
The October conviction “relieved” his daughter a bit and meant she could finally “start trying to heal,” Scott explains. The judge’s turnaround has now “destroyed” this and put it back in its original place, he says.
“He destroyed everything we worked for to get my daughter to start healing … in just 15 minutes he destroyed it all,” he says.
“We finally saw that she was starting to look a little more like herself again. The scar was there and the scab started to heal, then the judge tore it off and we’re back to square one. “
The judge blamed everyone but his daughter’s attacker for what happened to her, he says.
“It was a tough road, but then it’s completely unacceptable for a judge to spit in our face and blame my daughter and blame the parents and everyone else for what he did,” he says. He adds: “You took my 16-year-old daughter, who started living with what happened, and that means she has to start all over again now.”
Scott says he believes the judge did not rule in accordance with the law.
“Your job as a judge is to respect the law, not take the law into your own hands … you have found him guilty,” he says. “Your job was to convict him, and because you couldn’t change the law, you could only change the verdict. What gives you the right to take the law into your own hands? ”
Scott says he wants to ask the judge what has been changed about the verdict. “How can you pass a conviction and then decide three months later to take the law into your own hands and think it’s right to let this child go?” he asked.
He draws attention to the judge’s comments when the decision was pronounced, where he apparently shifted the blame to the parents of the teenager who organized a party where the teenagers drank alcohol.
“16-year-olds were allowed to bring alcoholic beverages to the party. Minors have been given alcohol and you wonder how these things happen. Well, that’s how these things happen, “the judge said.
“‘These things are happening?’ Scott talks about the language the judge uses. “It’s totally crazy to say that.”
For Scott, shifting the blame sends a dangerous message to other young women and men: that the rapist will not be held accountable when they are young and when alcohol has been involved.
“My 17-year-old son was in the courtroom. He then turned to me and said, ‘So the judge says that as long as I have a clean record and I’m 18, I can avoid sexual assault and it’s not my fault. The underage victim is to blame for drinking. It’s the parents’ fault. Everyone is guilty, except me. “
“My son’s comments really opened my eyes [to what the ruling meant], «He adds.
For victims of sexual assault, such as his daughter, the judge sends a clear message that they are not allowed to speak out against their attackers, Scott says. “The judge did nothing but sacrifice the muzzle. Why would you tell your story and go through all this and not get justice? “
Scott describes how his daughter has struggled for the past eight months with what happened to her. Instead of enjoying her senior year, she can no longer go to school in person because she is afraid that “people will laugh at her, say she’s lying, call her a rapist,” Scott says.
The former high school sports star has given up all her sports, moved on to distance learning and is “afraid to walk with people”.
“She can’t go to prom or do things she should have done in her senior year,” Scott says. “It affected everyone.”
The tax caused by the sexual assault on the 16-year-old peaked when she tried to take her own life, she reveals. Scott recounts how he received a panicked phone call from one of his daughter’s friends at night and hurried to her room. She was taken to hospital where she suffered several attacks.
When Scott found his daughter’s suicide note, he noticed that the only name she mentioned in it was Clinton’s.
“The suicide letter had only one name, which was Drew’s. It 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 says.
“I sat by her bed in the hospital for five days as she clung to life. She then had to spend seven days in a local psychiatric unit to make sure she would no longer be injured. We knew it hit her hard, but we didn’t know it was on the cards either. I can’t imagine what went through her mind that she thought was the only way out. “
In addition to the sexual assault itself, the 16-year-old also had the ordeal of going through legal proceedings after Clinton was accused of rape, Scott says. In the courtroom, she was forced to testify at the stall about the sexual assault, an ordeal that Scott says made her feel “ridiculed”.
“It was difficult for her as she is 16 years old and was attacked by the defense. It was also the first time she had to look Drew in the face [after the assault]he said.
To make matters worse, Scott says, he and his wife could not be in the courtroom to support her because the defense also called them. No one was called to testify. “After the verdict of guilt, there was just a sense of relief,” Scott says. “Just to go to conviction and be worse than before.”
Scott says neither his daughter nor other members of his family wanted or expected Clinton to receive the maximum possible 40-year prison sentence. He says they were “100 percent on board” and got at least four years.
But now his daughter wished she had never talked about sexual assault at all.
“When we got home [after the sentencing hearing] she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said ‘I wish I would never say anything,’ ”she says. “Like the parent who destroyed me. It was devastating. It feels like she went through it all for free, and if she didn’t say anything and bury it, she wouldn’t have to go through it all. ”
The new verdict also robbed her of the opportunity to submit a statement to the court about the victim’s influence. Scott says it was “hard,” but that he, his wife, and his daughter each wrote their own story. “We prepared mentally and never had a chance to read them,” he says.
Now that Clinton is free because a judge has ruled that five months is “enough” time for his sentence, Scott says his daughter is living with what happened.
“He left the courtroom and went home. He has to live with it for the rest of his life,” he says. “And with that, we have to live as a family.”
According to Judge Scott’s actions, his daughter no longer has a legal path to exercise the right. The only option would be a civil matter, which he says they are not interested in because “it’s not about money” and “they don’t want to” [his daughter] go through something else ”.
But despite the outcome in the courts, Scott says he is “so proud” of his daughter for talking about what happened to her, and hopes to be able to inspire other survivors not to keep quiet.
“My message to other survivors would be not to hide it,” he says. “Speak up. My daughter showed such confidence that she spoke up, and I’ve seen what happens when someone tries to hold it back. Even if you think no one is listening, I promise you it’s someone.”
If you are feeling distressed or struggling, you can talk confidentially with the Samaritans on 116 123 (UK and ROI), by e-mail at [email protected] or visit the Samaritans Web page to find the details of your nearest branch.
If you are based in the U.S. and you or someone you know currently needs mental health assistance, call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is a toll-free, confidential crisis phone number available to anyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you are in another country, you can visit www.befrienders.org and find a helpline near you.