People v. Sargent, 108689.

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Citation346 Ill.Dec. 441,940 N.E.2d 1045,239 Ill.2d 166
Docket NumberNo. 108689.,108689.
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee,v.William E. SARGENT, Appellant.
Decision Date18 November 2010

239 Ill.2d 166
940 N.E.2d 1045
346 Ill.Dec.

The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee,
William E. SARGENT, Appellant.

No. 108689.

Supreme Court of Illinois.

Nov. 18, 2010.

[940 N.E.2d 1047]

Michelle J. Pelletier, State Appellate Defender, Patricia Unsinn and Alan D. Goldberg, Deputy Defenders, and Deborah K. Pugh, Asst. Appellate Def., of Office of State Appellate Def., of chicago, for appellant.Lisa Madigan, Atty. Gen., of Springfield, and Robert G. Matekaitis, State's Atty., of Sycamore (Michael A. Scodro, Solicitor Gen., Michael M. Glick, Sheri L. Wong, Asst. Attorneys Gen., of Chicago, of counsel), for the People.

[239 Ill.2d 169] OPINION
Justice KARMEIER delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

[346 Ill.Dec. 443] Following a jury trial in the circuit court of De Kalb County, defendant, William Sargent, was convicted of predatory criminal sexual assault involving J.W., his minor stepson. In the same proceeding, he was also convicted of three counts of predatory criminal sexual assault and two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving J.W.'s younger brother, M.G.

On appeal, defendant argued that the circuit court committed reversible error when it failed to tender to the jury an instruction governing hearsay evidence as required by section 115–10(c) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (725 ILCS 5/115–10(c) (West 2006)). Defendant further asserted that four of his convictions should be reversed on the grounds that the State failed to offer proof of the corpus

[346 Ill.Dec. 444 , 940 N.E.2d 1048]

delicti of the crimes. Finally, defendant claimed that seven-year sentences he received on his aggravated criminal sexual abuse convictions should have run concurrently rather than consecutively to the life sentence he received for his predatory criminal sexual assault convictions.

The State conceded the sentencing error, and the appellate court modified defendant's sentence so that his seven-year sentences would run concurrently with his life sentence. In all other respects, the appellate court affirmed the circuit court's judgment. 389 Ill.App.3d 904, 329 Ill.Dec. 819, 907 N.E.2d 410. We granted defendant's petition for leave to appeal. 210 Ill.2d R. 315. For the reasons that follow, we now affirm in part and reverse in part the judgment of the appellate court. We also affirm in part and reverse in part the circuit court's judgment.


The record before us shows that in December of 2004, defendant was charged with one count of predatory criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/12–14.1(a)(1) (West [239 Ill.2d 170] 2004)) for allegedly placing a part of his body in the anus of his minor stepson J.W. In a separate proceeding, he was also charged with three counts of predatory criminal sexual assault for allegedly placing his finger in the anus of another minor stepson, M.G. In addition, he was charged with two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse (720 ILCS 5/12–16(c)(1)(i) (West 2004)) for allegedly fondling the penis of M.G. for purposes of his own sexual gratification.

Prior to trial, the State filed notice, in each case, of its intention to offer hearsay statements from M.G. and J.W. pursuant to section 115–10 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (725 ILCS 5/115–10 (West 2006)), which permits, among other things, the admission of hearsay statements made by victims in cases involving sexual abuse of a child. The specific materials which the State sought to admit were a videotaped interview of M.G. conducted by a worker for the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) on November 24, 2004; statements made by J.W. to his guardian, a DCFS worker and a police detective in 2004; and separate videotaped interviews which the DCFS worker and the detective conducted with J.W. on December 9, 14 and 29 of 2004.

Following an evidentiary hearing, the circuit court determined that the boys' out-of-court statements were sufficiently reliable to render them admissible. At the same time, the court denied motions filed by defendant pursuant to section 114–11 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (725 ILCS 5/114–11 (West 2006)) to suppress an inculpatory statement defendant had given during an interview at police headquarters prior to his arrest.

The State subsequently filed a motion under section 114–7 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (725 ILCS 5/114–7 (West 2006)) asking that the two cases be [239 Ill.2d 171] tried together. The motion was granted by the court over defendant's objection. The court also granted a motion filed by the State under section 115–7.3 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (725 ILCS 5/ 115–7.3 (West 2006)) to permit evidence of defendant's criminal conduct with respect to each victim to be admitted in connection with both of the now joined prosecutions.

The matter ultimately proceeded to trial before a jury in February of 2007. The State's first witness was M.G. When M.G. was alleged to have been victimized, he was six years old. By the time trial commenced, he was eight.

On questioning by the State, M.G. testified that he currently lived with “Chad and

[346 Ill.Dec. 445 , 940 N.E.2d 1049]

Mindy.” Mindy is his maternal aunt, Melinda. Chad is Mindy's husband. M.G. also stated that he had previously lived with Melissa, who “used to be” his mother, and that Melissa was married to a man named Bill. By Bill, M.G. meant defendant, whose first name is William.

M.G. testified that when he lived with Melissa and Bill, it was in a brick building. The prosecuting attorney asked M.G. whether he remembered Bill “doing anything to [him] that [he] didn't like when [he] lived in that brick apartment.” M.G. responded: “I don't remember.” With this, direct questioning of M.G. ended. He was not cross-examined.

Joseph Veronda, an Illinois Department of Children and Family Services child protective investigator, was called to the stand next. He testified that he had been asked to interview M.G. in connection with “allegations of possible risk of harm to the child that he may have suffered while in the custody of his mother.” During that interview, M.G. had stated that “he had a secret.” At the hearing on the pretrial motion to admit the hearsay statements made by M.G. and J.W., Veronda testified that when he asked M.G. what the secret was, M.G. told him that “Bill had put his finger in [M.G.'s] butt.” At trial, [239 Ill.2d 172] Veronda recalled M.G. telling him that “Bill puts Bill's finger in [M.G.'s] butt.”

Veronda later interviewed M.G. regarding the allegations, and the State submitted a video of the interview as evidence. In the video, Veronda asked M.G. to tell him about a secret that M.G. and Bill had. M.G. stated that Bill “thought he put his finger in my butt,” but that Bill “did not stick his finger in my butt,” and that he had “made sure that Bill did not touch my butt.” When Veronda asked him if anyone had ever put his finger in M.G.'s butt, he said “No.” Eventually M.G. wrote on an easel that Bill “Poot his thigr in my but [ sic ].” M.G. also stated that Bill put his finger in M.G.'s butt and that the incident occurred at their old house, which was brick. Veronda then asked him how many times that had happened, to which he responded verbally and in writing, “I don't know.” Veronda asked M.G., “Did it happen one time or more than one time?” M.G. responded by writing the numeral one.

The video of M.G. was followed by testimony from Melissa Sargent, his biological mother. Melissa related that M.G. was born March 3, 1998. He was eventually adopted by her sister, Melinda, and her sister's husband, Chad. Melissa further testified that J.W. was born January 15, 1992, and now lived with his aunt Robin. Melissa initially stated that both boys stopped living with her in March of 2003, when M.G. had just turned five, but admitted during cross-examination that she was not certain whether it was 2003 or 2004 when the boys went to live with their aunts. After the boys moved out, neither ever returned to live with her.

According to Melissa, she married defendant in April of 2002. She was certain of the year because, she recalled, it was the same year her former husband drowned and her father was shot. Melissa recounted that the couple moved into a brick building in DeKalb in March or June[239 Ill.2d 173] of the same year. The couple lived together there until sometime in 2004. She stated that while she was at work during the day, the boys would be placed in day care or watched by defendant, who worked a night shift. She and defendant are now divorced.

Following Melissa's testimony, the State called Melissa's sister Robin, who was serving as J.W.'s guardian. Robin stated that she was employed as the alcohol, drug and early intervention coordinator for De Kalb County Youth Services, where she

[346 Ill.Dec. 446 , 940 N.E.2d 1050]

also conducted therapy for adolescents and their families. She testified that J.W. first began living with her on a permanent basis in March of 2004. After he moved in, he was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, which she described as an autism spectrum disorder. Because of this condition, he has an extremely difficult time with social situations, does not know how to make friends, and finds it hard to communicate and express his emotions. He does, however, receive good grades in school.

Robin recalled that in December of 2004, Melissa advised her that defendant had been arrested and was in the county jail for allegedly molesting M.G. and J.W. The same evening she received this news, Robin went for a walk with J.W. and the family's dog. During the walk, she asked J.W. if he knew what sexual abuse was. He replied that he did not. Robin then explained to him that “sexual abuse was when anybody touched him on his penis or his butt with their hands or their mouth or if that person had them touch them in those places.” Robin recalled that J.W. got quiet. After 5 or 10 minutes passed, she reassured him that “it was okay to tell...

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