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10/29/87 the People of the State of v. Charles J. Williams

October 29, 1987

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

CHARLES J. WILLIAMS, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE

THE TRIAL COURT DISMISSED THE CHARGE OF SEXUAL RELATIONS WITHIN FAMILIES (ILL. RE

v.

STAT. 1985, CH. 38, PAR. 11-11) BROUGHT ABOUT THE DEFENDANT, CHARLES J. WILLIAMS. THE STATE APPEALS.



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT

515 N.E.2d 388, 162 Ill. App. 3d 414, 113 Ill. Dec. 579 1987.IL.1606

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Fulton County; the Hon. Charles H. Wilhelm, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE SCOTT delivered the opinion of the court. BARRY, P.J., and STOUDER, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE SCOTT

The information alleged that on or about August 1, 1985, the defendant committed an act of sexual penetration with his stepdaughter. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that the offense of sexual relations within families does not prohibit the charged conduct between a stepparent and a stepchild. The trial court initially denied the motion. Following this court's decision in People v. Parker (1987), 152 Ill. App. 3d 732, 504 N.E.2d 1006, in which we held that the sexual relations within families statute does not encompass stepparent-stepchild sexual conduct, the defendant renewed his motion. The trial court then granted it.

On appeal, the State argues that the offense of sexual relations within families includes stepparents and stepchildren.

The statute, as it was written when the defendant committed the alleged act, provided in relevant part:

"(a) A person commits sexual relations within families if he or she:

(1) Commits an act of sexual penetration as defined in Section 12 -- 12 of this Code; and

(2) The person knows he or she is related to the other person as follows: . . . (ii) Father or mother, when the child or stepchild, regardless of legitimacy and either of the whole blood or half-blood or by adoption, was 18 years of age or over when the act was committed." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 11-11.

In Parker, we noted that the term "stepchild" cannot be reconciled with the qualifying phrase "regardless of legitimacy and either by the whole blood or half-blood or by adoption." It is impossible to be a stepchild by the whole blood; a whole-blood relationship can involve only natural children. Further, one cannot be a stepchild by the half blood; "half-blood" describes a degree of relationship between siblings. (Black's Law Dictionary 217-18 (4th ed. 1951).) Finally, the term "adopted child" includes an adopted stepchild, making the legislature's use of "adopted" to modify "stepchild" redundant.

After reviewing the State's and the defendant's arguments in Parker, we found that both sides had presented sound reasoning supporting their interpretations of the statute. We further found that their contradictory Conclusions demonstrated that any interpretation of the statute, as far as its applicability or inapplicability to stepparents and stepchildren, necessitated considerable speculation. Accordingly, we ruled that we had no choice but to construe the statute in the defendant's favor (People v. Christensen (1984), 102 Ill. 2d 321, 465 N.E.2d 93), and held that it did not encompass sexual relations between stepparents and their stepchildren.

In the instant case, with one exception, the State's arguments in support of its position were addressed by this court in Parker. Having reexamined our reasoning in Parker, we find no basis for overruling that decision. We ...


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