Vaughan has ‘high hopes’ for favorable verdict in hearing; Adrian says he will ‘do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God’

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From left, Cameron Vaughan, Megan Duesterhaus and Cameron Barnes

CHICAGO — Asked what he thought about his hearing before the Illinois Courts Commission, which ended Wednesday afternoon, Eighth Circuit Judge Robert Adrian’s response was simple.

“I have no idea,” he replied.

The two-day hearing wrapped up with the testimony of three prosecution witnesses and one defense witness, along with closing arguments. Other than when he gave his testimony, which took up much of Tuesday’s hearing, Adrian sat calmly by the side of Daniel Konicek, his attorney. Adrian’s wife, Martha, two rows behind him in the gallery.

Elizabeth Rochford, the Illinois Supreme Court justice appointed to the Courts Commission in this case, said after the closing arguments that the seven-member commission would take the information from the hearing “under advisement.” She did not indicate when or how a ruling would be issued.

Asked to elaborate on his first statement, Adrian said, “I’ve never been through the process before. The only comment I will make is God requires three things of all people: Do justice, that you love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. That’s why I’ve always tried to do, and that’s what I’ll always try to do.”

Adrian said during his testimony Tuesday he made a “rookie mistake” when he found Drew Clinton guilty during an October 2021 sexual assault trial, then repeatedly admitted he made errors when he reversed his decision during a sentencing hearing on Jan. 3, 2022. However, Adrian remained steadfast in his belief that he reversed the decision because of the evidence, not to circumvent the law to help Clinton avoid a mandatory sentence in the Illinois Department of Corrections. 

The victim, Cameron Vaughan, went public to speak out against the verdict and to support other women. She agreed shortly after the news of the reversal of the guilty verdict and allowed local and national media to use her name.

Vaughan, who now lives in Joplin, Mo., attended both days of the hearing. She thought Mike Deno, attorney for the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board, did an “amazing job.”

“I have really high hopes for it,” she said.

Vaughan said some of the things she heard during the hearing angered her.

“Whenever I hear things that aren’t either true, or people try to make up things that happened, they don’t know what happened there,” she said. “Then people think they can just say what (they believe) happened and not the truth. I was just hearing lies, and it was just making me very upset, because I can’t say anything. There were several times I wanted to just raise my hand and say, ‘That’s not true.’ 

“But I really think (Deno and co-counsel Mary McMahon) did a great job.”

Megan Duesterhaus, chief executive director of the Quincy Area Network Against Domestic Abuse (QUANADA), also attended both days of the trial, as did several members of the #StandWithCammy support group. She helped organize protests in Washington Park in support of Vaughan and other sexual assault victims.

Duesterhaus said she thought the way Adrian’s hearing was processed was professionally done, and the Judicial Inquiry Board “completely” won the day. 

“The arguments, the organization and the preparedness for the hearing I felt were very convincing,” she said. “I have the same opinion that I came in with, and that is Bob Adrian does not have the temperament to be on the bench. He has caused grievous harm to a survivor who he’s not apologized to. 

“(Adrian’s) defense, the past two days, completely wrote the victim out of the script. He was trying to flip the script for us to make us feel sorry and have sympathy for a judge who was doing his job and then faced criticism. I don’t have sympathy for that. He’s a public figure, making serious decisions about people’s lives. Sorry, not sorry, I guess.”

In the courtroom for Wednesday’s testimony was Cameron Barnes, national youth director for the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, an international human and civil rights organization founded by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson. Barnes was in Quincy in February 2022 for a protest in Washington Park.

“I think it is very interesting how someone can defend a personal interpretation of the law,” Barnes said. “What the law calls for is what the law calls for. Nothing more, nothing less. We have to all live under one law one piece of legislation, one set of rules. When the playing field is even, that’s when we can all win. And this is not an even playing field. That’s a problem.”

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