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10/28/87 the People of the State of v. Thomas Laughlin

October 28, 1987

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

THOMAS LAUGHLIN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, THIRD DIVISION

516 N.E.2d 535, 163 Ill. App. 3d 115, 114 Ill. Dec. 380 1987.IL.1598

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Lawrence Genesen, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE FREEMAN delivered the opinion of the court. McNAMARA, P.J., and WHITE, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE FREEMAN

Defendant Thomas Laughlin was charged by information with one count of unlawful restraint (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 10-3(a)) and two counts each of criminal sexual assault (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, pars. 12-13(a)(1), (a)(3)) and aggravated criminal sexual assault (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, pars. 12-14(a)(2), (b)(1)). After a jury trial defendant was convicted of aggravated criminal sexual assault and sentenced to 10 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Defendant appeals and raises the following contentions: (1) the testimony of complainant, the mother of the victim, could not be believed beyond a reasonable doubt and therefore defendant's conviction should be reversed; (2) three errors at trial combined to deprive defendant of a fair trial by arousing the sympathy and passions of the jury and injecting irrelevant evidence into the case; and (3) defendant's 10-year sentence is excessive and based on an improper sentencing factor.

For the reasons stated below we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

The evidence at trial indicated the following. Complainant was defendant's common law wife. The alleged victim is complainant's 3 1/2-year-old son. Complainant testified that she put the alleged victim to bed at about 9 p.m. on August 8, 1984. At about 3 a.m. the next morning, she was awakened by screams. Complainant went to the bathroom, where the screams were originating, and pushed open the door. She saw defendant standing in the bathroom holding the alleged victim in front of him in front of the toilet. The alleged victim's pajama bottoms were on the floor and the drawstring on defendant's pajama bottom was open. The alleged victim was crying and screaming that defendant had hurt him. Complainant told defendant to let go of the boy and hand him to her, which defendant did. Defendant told complainant that the alleged victim was crying because he was constipated. Complainant washed the boy and noticed a small spot of blood on his buttocks. Defendant had gone downstairs and did not return to the bedroom. Complainant held the boy for a while, and then put him to bed.

Later that morning complainant telephoned Roseland Hospital but was told that the doctor was unavailable at that time. Complainant thereafter took the alleged victim to a clinic to see Dr. Pascual Sales. Dr. Sales examined the alleged victim, including his rectal area. After the examination, complainant told Sales that defendant was with the alleged victim in the washroom at about 3 a.m. and that defendant had said that the boy was in pain because he was constipated. Dr. Sales gave complainant suppositories to relieve the boy's pain. Complainant testified that she also examined the alleged victim's rectum that morning and noticed that it was red and that the boy "was torn."

Complainant put the alleged victim to bed that evening at about 9 p.m. At about 3 a.m. on August 10, 1984, complainant again was awakened by screams. She went to the washroom and knocked on the door. Defendant responded that he was using the washroom. Complainant tried to open the door but it was locked. She went to the alleged victim's room and noticed that he was not in bed. Then she returned to the washroom and kicked in the door. She saw defendant holding the alleged victim on top of the closed toilet seat. She said that defendant had his erect penis inside the alleged victim's rectum. The alleged victim's pajama bottoms were on the floor and defendant's pajama bottoms were hanging down below his waist. The alleged victim was crying and screaming, "[Mommie], he hurt me. He is hurting me." Complainant asked defendant to let go of the alleged victim but defendant refused. Complainant then got a shotgun from the closet and held it up to defendant. She again asked defendant to release the alleged victim and defendant again refused. Complainant said she was afraid that if she pulled the trigger she would hit the alleged victim, so she returned the gun to the closet and removed the bullets from the gun.

Complainant then went back to the washroom and told defendant that she thought she saw him doing something. Complainant testified she said that to defendant because defendant would not let go of the alleged victim. Defendant then released the boy. Complainant noticed blood and semen on defendant's penis and on the boy's rectum. Complainant took the alleged victim and held him and then washed him. Defendant had gone downstairs and complainant believed that after a time defendant left the house. After defendant left, complainant telephoned Roseland Hospital in an attempt to contact Dr. Sales but was unable to reach him. Complainant took the alleged victim to Dr. Sales' clinic some time that morning and waited for several hours, but was unable to see Dr. Sales. A nurse told complainant that the doctor would not be in the office until about 4 p.m. Complainant said she "got tired of waiting" at the clinic and then took the boy to Cook County Hospital. Complainant said she was at the hospital at about 3 p.m. While at the hospital, complainant spoke to Dr. Connie Blade, who examined the alleged victim, and to Mr. Wilson Watt. Complainant did not tell Dr. Blade of the incident with defendant until after Blade examined the alleged victim. Complainant testified that either Blade or Watt telephoned the police on her behalf.

After complainant arrived home with the alleged victim, she received a telephone call from the police. She then went to the police station and told police what had happened. The next day, August 11, 1984, complainant returned to the police station and signed a complaint alleging that defendant sexually assaulted the alleged victim.

At trial the State then called Dr. Constance Blade as an expert witness. Blade testified that she examined the alleged victim on August 10, 1984, after complainant telephoned Cook County Hospital and asked Blade if there was a test that could be done to determine whether a child had been abused. Blade's physical examination of the alleged victim revealed nothing unusual except for a small perianal fissure measuring about five millimeters long and one to two millimeters wide. The fissure was the result of the skin surrounding the rectum being stretched beyond its elasticity. Blade also observed that the boy was "much more withdrawn" than most children of his age and that he was very quiet and did not want to talk to or play with her.

After examining the alleged victim and talking to complainant, Blade requested that Wilson Watt, a social worker experienced in working with children, talk to the boy. Blade testified that based on her seven years' experience in the field of pediatrics, her examination of the alleged victim, and her conversations with Watt and complainant, her opinion was that the boy had been sexually abused. The fissure she observed on the alleged victim was consistent with an adult male inserting his penis into the anus of the alleged victim. She opined that the injury had occurred within eight hours of her examination of the alleged ...


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