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Woman who survived sex assault as teen reacts to judge benched after overturning her attacker’s conviction

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Cammy Vaughan gripped her victim impact statement during her rapist’s sentencing when the presiding judge – Robert Adrian – overturned his conviction, a nearly unprecedented move that stripped him of his judgeship two years later.

The Quincy, Illinois, judge said during the January 2022 sentencing that “these things happen” when teenagers engage in underage drinking and “coeds and female people” swim in their underwear. Drew Clinton, then 18, was off the hook.

“The evidence was there. The judge could see it. Everyone could see it. We were all very happy that he was finally going to be going to prison,” Vaughan, who was 16 at the time of her attack, told Fox News Digital. 

“Out of nowhere on sentencing day, the judge just completely slaps us all in the face and says, ‘I’m not going to be sending this young man to the Department of Corrections,’ and then goes on to blame me. … I was very, very emotional, and I had to get out of the courtroom. I was in tears. I ran to the bathroom. I couldn’t be there anymore. I was heartbroken after that.”


The ordeal started with the attack at a graduation party in May 2021. Five months later, Adrian found Clinton guilty of sexually assaulting Vaughan.

That led to January 2022’s reversal, when Adrian said the 148 days Clinton had spent in jail was punishment enough, the Associated Press reported.

The Illinois Courts Commission tossed Adrian off the bench for abusing his power to “circumvent the law” that required Clinton to serve a mandatory prison sentence “to satisfy his personal belief as to what constituted a just sentence,” according to the 33-page decision on Feb. 23.

Adrian told Fox News Digital that the commission’s decision to remove him “isn’t fair” and called it “unconstitutional,” but he can’t appeal the decision.

“They’re totally wrong,” Adrian said. “They (the Courts Commission) didn’t look at the evidence, and the evidence showed he (Clinton) wasn’t guilty.”


Adrian, who had a 13-year career as a judge without any complaints or other discipline, was backed by “several attorneys” who testified on his behalf that he’s “knowledgeable in the law” and has a “reputation for being fair and serving with integrity,” according to the commission’s report. 

But it wasn’t enough to save his career, which he prolonged by winning his retention race in November 2022 with 62% of the vote. Judges need 60% to keep their seat.

“It’s election fraud,” he said. “It robs the people who voted for me.”

With virtually no recourse, coupled with the fact he’s at retirement age, he said that’s what he’s going to do. 

Judge Robert Adrian

The commission’s report zeroed in on comments the ex-judge made during sentencing about Vaughan’s swimsuit and underage drinking. 

“These types of comments, coupled with the fact that respondent reversed himself, could give the impression to the public that respondent did not believe Clinton deserved to go to prison for sexual assault because the female victim was voluntarily intoxicated and swam in her underwear,” the commission wrote. 


Vaughan held back some of her contempt for the ex-judge and those comments in particular, but she said he is a “sexist, disgusting person.” 

“This is what happens when people do that, and yeah, that’s all I’ll say about him,” she said.

Cammy Vaughn speaking to Fox News Digital via Zoom
Cammy Vaughan with her grandma, affectionally known as Memaw.

News of the state Courts Commission’s decision came a couple of months earlier than expected, Vaughan told Fox News Digital during a Zoom interview, and she couldn’t believe it.

“I was at home with my boyfriend, and I had to step outside for a minute and started crying. I was beyond happy,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it. I mean, we weren’t expecting to find out the verdict for at least a few months, and here it was just out of the blue. It was just a rush of emotion.”

“And I’m just still so happy to this day that he is no longer a judge because he can’t hurt anybody anymore. He’s gone.”

Recalling the attack: ‘Then he played video games, as if he didn’t just rape me’

Vaughan has since moved out of Quincy, has a steady relationship and works a full-time job as an assistant (and youngest employee) in an ophthalmologist’s office, where she jokes that she’s gunning for the head doctor’s job.

But that’s February 2024 Cammy Vaughan, who said she feels like she’s grown a lot since she was nearly killed during the attack in the summer of 2021, when she was raped and suffocated.


“I had woken up because I could feel what was going on, and I was kind of startled because I couldn’t really breathe because he had been pressing a pillow over my face,” said Vaughan, recalling the attack.

“I turned my head over to the side so I could breathe, and I could feel his hands on me. I could feel him inside of me. So, once I understood [that] I am getting raped right now, I immediately pushed him off and then rolled off onto the floor, pulled my pants up.”

“And while I’m doing this, he jumps up, pulls his pants up, and then he started playing video games, as if he didn’t just rape me. And I left the room and told my friends.”

Cammy Vaughan (left) is pictured here with (left to right) her brother Blake, her dad and sister, Tyona.

She gave a lot of credit to her friend, Lindsay Lane, her parents and her grandmother for getting her through the darkest times.

In between the sentencing debacle and 2024, Vaughan said she attempted suicide twice, had reoccurring, debilitating nightmares, and was on medicine that she didn’t want to take anymore.


“It was all just really hard at first. I wasn’t in a good headspace at all,” she said. 

Vaughan moved out of Quincy, which she says was a big move for her that essentially gave her a fresh start, and is living with her grandmother and boyfriend, Matthew Sharp, who’s been supportive: “It just completely changed my life, changed so much for the better.”

Cammy Vaughan with her friend Lindsay Lane
Cammy Vaughan, now 18, with her current boyfriend, Matthew Sharp.

Vaughan’s advice to other survivors

At just 18, Vaughan was thrust into the spotlight that got even brighter after the judge overturned Clinton’s conviction.

Other than a couple of people connected to Clinton, she said she received countless supportive letters and messages from strangers from all over the country and from as far as Ireland.

“I feel like all that was helping, having as much support as I did,” Vaughan said. “It was amazing. There was so much support for me literally across the world.”


But even at this young age, she’s embracing the position and platform that she never asked for – or wanted – and using it to empower other victims and survivors.

“My message to them is to not be scared and stand up for yourself,” she said. “I know it is scary in the moment to face your attacker, but you have more power over them by reporting it, by going and bringing it to court than just being silent and not saying anything.”

“They (the attackers) think they’re going to get away with it. That’s why they do it. So, show you are better than them.”

Illinois Courts Commission report: ‘Not an isolated incident’

The Illinois Courts Commission’s report ripped into Adrian. It had the power to issue a reprimand, censure or suspend him without pay, but after a three-day hearing, the commission said it had “ample grounds” to immediately remove him from the bench in western Illinois’ Adams County. 

Adrian’s conviction reversal was “not an isolated incident,” according to the report, “but rather included several acts that each violated the Code. His misconduct spanned nearly two years.”

After the sentencing, Adrian retaliated against the prosecutor – who liked a social media post that was critical of him – by removing the prosecutor from a courtroom and then lied under oath to the board in November 2023, the report says. 


“Then, to mask his subversion of the law, Respondent (Adrian) crafted a false justification for the reversal of his guilty finding, which he submitted to the Board in writing and later testified to under oath before two tribunals,” the report says. 

“Such intentional, dishonest, and extensive misconduct demonstrates respondent’s utter disregard for the truth, the judiciary and our justice system.”

The now-former judge later admitted retaliating against the prosecutor, but “he has not acknowledged that he circumvented the law” when he reversed Clinton’s conviction. Rather, he “minimized” his actions and believes his ruling in the case “was misunderstood,” according to the report.

Nevertheless, Clinton cannot be tried again for the same crime under the Fifth Amendment, and a motion to expunge Clinton’s record was denied in February 2023.

Adrian will not have an opportunity to appeal the commission’s decision, but he does still have his license to continue practicing law, which is separate from being a judge.

Fox News Digital’s Ashley Papa and Bonny Chu contributed to this report.

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