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People v. Link





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Knox County; the Hon. DANIEL J. ROBERTS, Judge, presiding.


Defendant Christine Link was charged by petition to revoke probation with two counts of disorderly conduct and one count of harassment by telephone. After a hearing on the merits, the circuit court of Knox County held that she had committed the latter offense, granted the petition, and imposed two concurrent four-year terms of imprisonment.

Defendant had originally been sentenced to two consecutive terms of probation after entering guilty pleas to two of three attempt (arson) charges in 1979. The factual basis then presented, and the evidence presented at the subsequent sentencing hearing, indicated defendant had set fires at the Galesburg Cottage Hospital and Galesburg Public Safety Building after feeling rejected by males who had been counseling her. The then 20-year-old defendant had no disciplinary problems in high school nor any prior convictions; she had, however, been seeing a social worker since her senior year.

A psychiatric evaluation by Dr. Thomas Tourlentes, prepared in 1979, indicated that defendant had a history of "crushes" on male teachers and counselors at her high school, similar to the "crushes" which Dr. Tourlentes believed resulted in the attempted arsons of 1979. His evaluation concluded that defendant had a "long-standing and deep-seated neurotic preoccupation with sex which is manifested by hysterical attention seeking, including the setting of fires."

Defendant had continued to seek counsel and began seeing Father Rick Pilger, assistant pastor at Corpus Christi Church in Galesburg in August of 1979. Father Pilger testified in her behalf at the 1979 sentencing hearing and stated that defendant was eager to continue her counseling. While testifying that he was confident defendant had not become emotionally or romantically involved with him, he acknowledged that Dr. Tourlentes recommended she only be counseled by females. After being sentenced to probation, defendant began counseling with Mary Dennis, a therapist at the Spoon River Mental Health Center.

In the early evening of July 22, 1980, defendant came to see Father Pilger; however, Ms. Dennis had decided defendant was not to see her former counselor. Father Pilger, aware of this decision, explained he could not speak to defendant unless Ms. Dennis first granted her permission. Defendant rang the rectory doorbell repeatedly throughout the evening. Two days later, similar doorbell ringing precipitated a meeting of defendant and both counselors.

In the late evening of August 5, 1980, defendant called Father Pilger and again wanted to talk to him, which the priest again explained he could not do without prior permission. After he attempted to hang up, defendant apparently stayed on the line as the connection had not been broken and Father Pilger received a busy signal when he attempted to call her on another line. The priest then called Officer Sonny Duncan, who went to defendant's residence and warned her against making further calls. At approximately 3 a.m. the following morning, defendant called again and Father Pilger signed the complaint leading to the petition at bar.

The petition alleged that defendant had violated the terms of her probation by committing three criminal offenses. The trial court found a probation violation in her perpetration of the offense of harassment by telephone. The petition charged, inter alia:

"On August 5, 1980, said probationer committed the offense of harrassment [sic] by telephone in that she knowingly made a telephone call to Father Rick Pilger with intent to annoy Father Rick Pilger in violation of Chapter 134 Ill. Rev. Stat. Section 16.4-1."

In People v. Klick (1977), 66 Ill.2d 269, 362 N.E.2d 329, the supreme court had occasion to rule on the constitutionality of section 26-1(a)(2) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 26-1(a)(2), which provided:

"A person commits disorderly conduct when he knowingly:

* * *

(2) With intent to annoy another, makes a telephone call, whether or not conversation thereby ensues; * * *."

The court found the provision overly broad and therefore violative of the first and fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution. The General Assembly thereafter enacted the statute which defendant was found to have violated. Section 1-1 of "An Act * * * to prevent harassment by the use of telephone ...

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