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People v. Gorney

OPINION FILED JANUARY 19, 1984.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

JOHN GORNEY, JR., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Will County; the Hon. Michael A. Orenic, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE SCOTT DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

After trial by jury in the county of Will, the defendant, John Gorney, Jr., was convicted of the offense of home invasion, attempt rape and aggravated battery. The defendant was sentenced to concurrent terms of imprisonment of 14 years for home invasion, five years for attempt rape and five years for aggravated battery.

The evidence at the trial of this case was highly conflicting. The key witness for the defense was the accused defendant while the alleged victim, Patricia Woods, was the key witness for the State.

Patricia Woods, age 28, married, and mother of four children, and the 20-year-old unmarried defendant and his family lived in the same neighborhood. It was Patricia's testimony that on October 16, 1981, after 9:30 p.m. she and her children were at home. After putting the children to bed, Patricia retired at 11:15 p.m. Her bedroom was on the upper level of the house. After falling asleep, she was awakened by a cold hand across her face and pressure, apparently from a knee, in the middle of her back. She was told not to move or scream or she would be killed. She heard something unzipping and when she rolled over in an effort to escape, a man straddled her and pinned her legs with his feet. The man had a nylon stocking over his face. Patricia struggled, but the man was able to partially pull her nightgown down when she was able to pull the stocking off his face. Patricia recognized the defendant, yelled his name, after which he began punching her in the face. The sleeping children were awakened, one of whom turned on a light, and departed for help while another turned on a light and screamed. The struggle between Patricia and the defendant continued as he persisted in his efforts to try and undress her and to have intercourse with her.

Shortly before midnight Patricia's husband returned home from work and when the defendant attempted to flee a fight ensued between the men which resulted in the defendant being subdued and detained until the police arrived.

The defendant's testimony was such as to raise the defense that he was intending to have intercourse with Patricia on October 16, 1981, with her consent as he had done on previous occasions. The defendant testified that commencing in June 1980 he became involved with Patricia. At first they engaged in kissing, hugging and fondling but this led to acts of sexual intercourse on occasions when Patricia's husband was working. The defendant testified as to various degrees of intimacy with Patricia which occurred at an engagement party, a swimming party, and at nighttime meetings on the front porch of Patricia's house. The defendant's version of the October 16 incident was that he was with Patricia in her bedroom with her consent and as they were disrobing and preparing to have intercourse they were alarmed when they heard a car pull into the driveway. That knowing the car to be that of Patricia's husband, they both attempted to put on their clothes. However when the front door opened, Patricia began screaming and the fight and subduing of the defendant by the husband occurred. The defendant denied striking Patricia, threatening her or exerting any force upon her. He denied that he was masked.

Additional evidence adduced at the trial was that a screen on a window in Patricia's room had been cut and a razor blade was found in the defendant's possession. Defendant claimed that the blade was used to clean car windows at the car dealership where he worked. A pair of panty hose was found in the bed; however, it was never established that they were Patricia's or that they were brought to the room by the defendant.

The defendant's sister testified that in a conversation with Patricia, she (Patricia) indicated that she had engaged in sexual intercourse with the defendant. Judy Carnes, who attended an engagement party, testified that when the party was ending she heard Patricia offer the defendant another beer and at that time Patricia was wearing a negligee.

Further facts and occurrences during the trial will be set forth as the same becomes pertinent to this appeal.

The defendant raises several issues in this appeal. The first of which is that he was denied a fair trial and his right to confront witnesses against him when the trial court blocked his attempt to impeach the credibility of Patricia, thereby preventing him from presenting evidence which would show Patricia's proclivity for making false claims of rape.

During the course of the trial and outside the presence of the jury defense counsel indicated that he wanted to present evidence from Judy Carnes and the defendant himself about an incident which occurred prior to October 1981. Defense counsel stated that the evidence would be as follows:

"I believe it was after the engagement party that we have talked about before, Judge, that Mrs. Woods gave 11:30 that evening. There were a group of people standing on the porch. Mrs. Woods was there, and John Gorney was there, Colleen O'Hara was there, Judy Carnes was there, and there were some speeders coming down the street, and one of the boy's names was Greg Bell (Phonetic), and there was a discussion to call the police, and then Mrs. Woods stated that she should call the police and say that the Bell boy tried to rape her in order to get even with him, and then she said that John Gorney could rip her nightgown to make it look authentic."

The trial excluded this proffered evidence on the grounds that it was irrelevant.

The State, in its brief, argues inter alia that the proffered evidence would be excludable under the rape-shield provision (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 115-7); however, during oral argument it was conceded that this statutory provision would not bar the introduction of the evidence. The main thrust of the State's argument in support of the trial court's ruling is that the excluded testimony did not tend to prove that Patricia had ever falsely charged any man with rape but only showed that she threatened to do so. This is the reasoning set forth in the case of People v. Vaughn (1978), 56 Ill. App.3d 700, 371 N.E.2d 1248, where a victim after ...


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