People v. Ruppenthal, 1-01-1231.

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Citation265 Ill.Dec. 43,331 Ill. App.3d 916,771 N.E.2d 1002
Docket NumberNo. 1-01-1231.,1-01-1231.
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Stephen RUPPENTHAL, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date24 May 2002

771 N.E.2d 1002
331 Ill.
App.3d 916
265 Ill.Dec.

The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Stephen RUPPENTHAL, Defendant-Appellant

No. 1-01-1231.

Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, Sixth Division.

May 24, 2002.

Rehearing Denied July 2, 2002.

771 N.E.2d 1003
Robert D. Kuzas, Chicago, for Appellant

State's Attorney of Cook County, (Richard A. Devine, Renee Goldfarb, Kenneth T. McCurry, Eve Reilly, of counsel), Chicago, for Appellee.

Presiding Justice GALLAGHER delivered the opinion of the court:

Following a bench trial, the defendant, Stephen Ruppenthal, was convicted of two counts of indecent solicitation of a child and was sentenced to two years of probation. Ruppenthal was arrested at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago after communicating on the Internet with a person whom he believed to be a 14-year-old girl named "Stacy," but who was actually a Cook County sheriff's detective. On appeal, defendant first argues that because he did not in fact solicit a minor but instead communicated with an adult, he should not have been charged with indecent solicitation of a child under section 11-6 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (the Code) (720 ILCS 5/11-6 (West 2000)). He asserts that section 11-6 of the Code is unconstitutional and represents an improper exercise of state power because prohibiting the solicitation of an adult by another adult who mistakenly believes the object of the solicitation is a minor is not causally related to the protection of children. In addition, defendant claims that Illinois courts lack jurisdiction to adjudicate his case because he Communicated with "Stacy"

771 N.E.2d 1004
via computer from California For the reasons stated below, we affirm defendant's conviction

Prior to trial, defendant moved to dismiss the indictment based upon the same arguments that he now raises on appeal, and his motions were denied. The following facts were presented at a stipulated bench trial. On April 26, 2000, Cook County sheriffs detective Michael Anton logged onto a Internet site titled "sex" and assumed the identity of a 14-year-old girl named "Stacy." Defendant, who was 53 years old and lived in Tomales, California, communicated privately with "Stacy" for about two hours using his home computer. The State entered into evidence a transcript of their on-line conversation, which is included in the record.

We relate only the pertinent portions. Defendant told "Stacy" that he was 46 years old. "Stacy" replied that she would "be 15 real soon." Defendant said his flight would stop in Chicago the following day and suggested they meet at O'Hare and "find a private place and be together." Defendant said he wanted to rub her chest and vagina and that they "would find a place in the airport without many people and sit together" and they could, be under a blanket so no one would see, what they did. Defendant told "Stacy" his flight number and asked her to meet; him at his gate. Defendant said that. if she was ready tomorrow, they could "find a place," perhaps a restroom, where he could put his penis in her vagina; he later stated, "I can't promise we can do it. It will depend if we can find a place." "Stacy" told defendant her last name was Hugh and she would wear her school uniform.

When defendant arrived at, O'Hare, a female sheriff's detective dressed as "Stacy" met him at his gate. The female detective approached defendant and said his name. Defendant replied, "Yes, I thought it was you, but I wasn't sure; It's good that you wore your uniform. Then I knew it was you." After further conversation between the female detective and defendant, Detective Anton asked defendant who he was meeting. Defendant said he was meeting Stacy Hugh. Defendant was placed under arrest. After his arrest, defendant told Anton and a prosecutor, that he thought "Stacy" was "about 15" years old. The remainder of defendant's statement was consistent with the evidence presented at trial. The trial court convicted defendant of two counts of indecent solicitation of a child with the intent to commit, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, pursuant to section 11-6(c)(3) of the Code (720 ILCS 5/11-6(c)(3) (West 2000)). Those counts were premised upon defendant's stated intent to touch the vagina of a minor child. The trial court acquitted defendant on a third count of indecent solicitation, stating that although the parties stipulated that defendant had suggested sexual intercourse, defendant's intent on that issue "seem[ed] to be unresolved."

On appeal, defendant first challenges the constitutionality of the statute under which he was convicted, arguing that the law violates" his "first amendment right to freedom of thought and belief." He asserts that his conviction was "a function of one element only—his belief that he was speaking to a child" and that the only act that accompanied his belief was the communication with Detective Anton, an adult. Defendant claims that because he did not commit an illegal act, he was punished only for his "bad state of mind."1

Section 11-6 of the Code provides:

771 N.E.2d 1005
"A person of the age of 17 years and upwards commits the offense of indecent solicitation of a child if the person, with the intent that the offense of aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, or aggravated criminal sexual abuse be committed, knowingly solicits a child or one whom he or she believes to be a child to perform an act of sexual penetration or sexual conduct as defined in Section 12-12 of this Code." (Emphasis added.) 720 ILCS 5/11-6(a) (West 2000).

The statute defines "solicit" as:

"to command, authorize, urge, incite, request, or advise another to perform an act by any means including, but not limited to, in person, over the phone, in writing, by computer, or by advertisement of any kind." 720 ILCS 5/11-6(b) (West 2000).

"Child" is defined as "a person under 17 years of age." 720 ILCS 5/11-6(b) (West 2000).

The criminal act defined by the statute is knowingly soliciting a child or one believed to be a child to perform an act of sexual penetration or sexual conduct, with the intent that the conduct be committed. 720 ILCS 5/11-6(a) (West 2000). The offense of solicitation is complete when the principal offense is commanded, encouraged or requested with the intent that it be committed. People...

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23 cases
  • People v. Salinas
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 31 March 2004
    ... ... (Ill.Rev.Stat.1991, ch. 38, par. 8-1 [now 720 ILCS 5/8-1 (West 2000)]). Defendant's offense was complete when the words at issue were spoken * * *.' Edwards, 243 Ill.App.3d at 289, 183 Ill.Dec. 548, 611 N.E.2d at 1202 ." People v. Ruppenthal, 331 Ill.App.3d 916, 920, 265 Ill.Dec. 43, 771 N.E.2d 1002 (2002). Again, the State and the majority lose sight of the fact that the crime of solicitation of murder for hire is complete at the moment of the solicitation. Ruppenthal, 331 Ill.App.3d at 920, 265 Ill.Dec. 43, 771 N.E.2d 1002 ... ...
  • State v. Backlund
    • United States
    • North Dakota Supreme Court
    • 2 December 2003
    ...if at all, at the keyboard and no further overt acts are required by the statute. [¶ 9] In People v. Ruppenthal, 331 Ill.App.3d 916, 265 Ill.Dec. 43, 771 N.E.2d 1002, 1007-08 (2002), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 124 S.Ct. 62, 157 L.Ed.2d 27 (2003), the Appellate Court of Illinois considered ......
  • People v. Arndt
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 18 August 2004
    ...of solicitation may be inferred from the surrounding circumstances and the acts of the defendant. People v. Ruppenthal, 331 Ill.App.3d 916, 920, 265 Ill.Dec. 43, 771 N.E.2d 1002 (2002). The trier of fact makes the factual determination regarding a defendant's intent, and we will not disturb......
  • People v. Gaciarz
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 19 December 2017
    ...defendant committed the crime of attempt." Id. at 971, 248 Ill.Dec. 534, 734 N.E.2d 462.¶ 41 In People v. Ruppenthal , 331 Ill. App. 3d 916, 917–18, 265 Ill.Dec. 43, 771 N.E.2d 1002 (2002), the defendant was convicted of indecent solicitation of a child after communicating with a detective ......
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