.January 3 was the day Scott hoped 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 would have spent at least four years behind bars under state law after the court heard him hold a pillow over his minor victim’s face and rape her when she was unconscious.
His victim who The Independent does not name, she 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 said 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 be released from prison, with no criminal record, no suspended sentence and no entry in the sex offender registry – just three months after the same judge found him guilty.
According to his remarks, the judge’s reasoning to change the verdict was not based on any new evidence or a sudden change of opinion that would lead to a reconsideration of 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 this trial was on a bench, the Court will find that the Peoples have failed to prove their case in Count 3,” 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, revealing how he “in just 15 minutes” ruined all the progress she had made to get on with her life as a result sexual assault.
The October conviction of guilt brought his daughter some “relief” and meant she could finally “start trying to heal,” Scott explained.
A judicial reversal has now “destroyed” this and returned it to its original place, he said.
“He destroyed everything we worked for to get my daughter to start treatment … in just 15 minutes he destroyed it all,” he said.
“We finally saw that she was starting to look a little more like herself again.
“The brag was there and the scab started to heal, then the judge ripped it off and we’re at the beginning again.”
The judge “spat in our face,” he said, and blamed everyone but his daughter’s attacker for what happened to her.
“It was a hard road and then the judge spat in our face and blamed my daughter and blamed the parents and everyone else for what he did is completely unacceptable,” he said.
He added: “You took my 16-year-old daughter, who started living with what happened, and it means she has to start all over again now.”
Scott said that instead of supporting the law, he believes the judge “took the law into his own hands”.
“Your job as a judge is to respect the law, not take the law into your own hands … you have found him guilty,” he said.
“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?” he asked.
Scott said he wanted to ask the judge what had changed his mind 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 drew attention to the judge’s comments at the pronouncement of the decision, where it is obvious that he shifts the blame to the parents of the teenager who organized a party where 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 said of the language used by the judge.
“It’s totally crazy to say that.”
Scott’s shifting of guilt 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 added.
Victims of sexual assault, such as his daughter, are being told by a judge clearly not to speak out against their attackers, he said.
“The judge did nothing but sacrifice the muzzle. Why would you tell your story and break through all this and not get justice? ”He said.
Scott described how his daughter had struggled with what had happened to her for the past eight months.
Instead of enjoying her senior year, she can no longer go to high school in person because “people would laugh, say she’s lying, call her a rapist,” Scott said.
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 said.
“It affected everyone.”
The tax caused by the sexual assault on the 16-year-old peaked when she tried to take her own life, he revealed.
Scott recounted 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.
“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 revealed.
“I sat by her bed 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 get hurt again.
“We knew it was hitting her hard, but we didn’t know it was even in the plan.
“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 said.
In the courtroom, she was forced to testify at the stall about the sexual assault, an ordeal that Scott said 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 said he and his wife could not be in the courtroom to support her because the defense also called them. None of them were called to testify.
“After the verdict of guilt, there was just a sense of relief,” Scott said.
“Just to go to conviction and be worse than before.”
Scott said neither his daughter nor other members of his family wanted or expected Clinton to go to jail for the maximum possible sentence of 40 years.
He said they were “100% ready” to get 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’, ”he said.
“Like the parent who destroyed me. It was devastating.
“She feels like she went through all this in vain and if she hadn’t said and buried anything, she wouldn’t have had to go through all this.”
The new verdict also robbed her of the opportunity to submit a statement to the court about the victim’s influence.
Scott said it was “hard,” but he, his wife, and his daughter were asked and wrote statements to tell their story.
“We prepared mentally and never had a chance to read them,” he said.
Now that Clinton is free because a judge has ruled that five months is “enough” time for his sentence, Scott said his daughter is left to live with what happened for the rest of her life.
“He left the courtroom and went home. He has to live with that for the rest of his life,” he said.
“And we have to live with that as a family.”
According to the judge’s actions, Scott said his daughter no longer has a legal path to exercise the right.
The only option would be a civil case, which he said 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 said he is “so proud” of his daughter for talking about what happened to her and hopes she can inspire other survivors not to keep quiet.
“My message to other survivors would be, don’t hide it,” he said.
“Speak up. My daughter showed such confidence that she spoke up, and I saw what happens when someone tries to hold him back.
“Even if you think no one is listening, I promise you someone is.”
If you are experiencing feelings of distress and loneliness or struggling, The Samaritans offers you support; you can talk to someone for free by phone, confidentially, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), by e-mail at [email protected] or visit 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). The helpline is a toll-free, confidential crisis phone number available to anyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.