We all know how often white privilege manifests itself in courts of law. If you’re a white defendant in America, chances are infinitely higher than they are for Black people and people of color that you will go before a sympathetic white judge and mostly white jury who will see you as the kid next door and go out of their way to either set you free outright or lightly slap your wrist and give you the most lenient sentence allowable by law.
We saw this with the judge in Kyle Rittenhouse’s case, and we’ve seen this play out in the trials of countless white cops who killed or brutalized unarmed Black people—and we often see it when it comes to young white males accused of rape or sexual assault. (Brock Turner anyone?)
18-year-old Drew S. Clinton was arrested after May 30 high school graduation party in western Illinois, during which he was accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl. In October, Adams County Judge Robert Adrian found Clinton guilty of felony sexual assault, according to the Associated Press. But during sentencing on January 3, Adrian refused to impose the mandatory minimum sentence of four years in prison for Clinton’s crime.
“Mr. Clinton has served almost five months in the county jail, 148 days,” Adrian said in his ruling. “For what happened in this case, that is plenty of punishment. That would be a just sentence.”
“There is no way, for what happened in this case, that this teenager should go to the Department of Corrections,” he continued. “I will not do that.”
So what exactly did happen in this case.
“During the trial, the judge heard evidence that the girl had told police she’d attended the party, where she drank alcohol and swam in a pool in her underwear before she eventually passed out. She said she woke up to a pillow pushed on her face and Clinton sexually assaulting her,” AP reported.
At this point, it’s worth mentioning that not only is Clinton white, but he’s male and he’s accused of sexually assaulting the type of young girl who is often victim-blamed by the type of person who sees underaged drinking and the promiscuous behavior of women and girls as more condemnation-worthy than a man who commits rape or sexual assault.
Either way, Clinton was the boy next door in that white male judge’s courtroom, not an attempted rapist.
In fact, Adrian went so far out of his way to coddle a violent sexual abuser that he essentially threw out Clinton’s conviction in order to justify his refusal to impose the legally-required sentence.
According to AP, Adrian said flat out that “if he were to rule that the sentencing statute he was bound to follow was unconstitutional, his decision would be overturned and Clinton would be ordered to prison.” So in order to avoid that appeal, he said he would determine that the prosecutors failed to “prove their case” and dismiss the sexual assault charge.
Bruh, HOW TF IS THAT EVEN LEGAL?
How the hell is a judge legally able to take it upon himself to determine that prosecutors failed to “prove their case” after he had already acknowledged that the defendant was successfully convicted?
Anyway, now Adrian is getting dragged up and down social media for his rape apologist decision, and he’s apparently in his feelings about it, because, on Wednesday, he booted another prosecutor on an unrelated case from his courtroom because he saw that the attorney “liked” a disparaging comment made about him on Facebook.
“I can’t be fair with you,” Adrian told the Adams County prosecutor, according to the Herald-Whig. “Get out.”
Nah, bruh—if anything, it’s the rapey-defendant-loving judge who needs to “get out” of the business of legal proceedings.
As for the prosecutor in Clinton’s case, Anita Rodriguez, she said in response to Adrian’s disgusting ruling that her “heart is bleeding for the victim.” And a group called the Quincy Area Network Against Domestic Abuse said Adrian’s ruling sends a “chilling message to other rape victims that their behavior, not the rapists’ will be judged,” and that the “judgment reinforces the fact that standards for women have always been impossibly high while they are impossibly low for men.”
Exactly—but also being white helps a lot.