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People v. Freeman

March 28, 1988



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Ogle County; the Hon. John L. Moore, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges: JUSTICE INGLIS delivered the opinion of the court. NASH and HOPF, JJ., concur.

Defendant, Ronald Freeman, appeals from his conviction of aggravated criminal sexual abuse (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 12-16(c)(1)) for which he was sentenced to two years' probation and 160 hours of public service and directed to participate in a drug treatment program. On appeal, defendant contends that the State presented insufficient evidence to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and the trial court erroneously found him ineligible to be treated as a drug addict pursuant to the Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 111 1/2, par. 6321).

At trial, Charanna Johnson (Renee) testified that on October 8, 1985, she was asleep in a bed in the hallway outside her mother's bedroom. Renee stated that she awoke feeling thirsty and overheard conversation coming from her mother's bedroom. Renee's mother, Anna Johnson, then passed through the hallway where Renee was sleeping and went down the stairs in their home. Defendant had remained in the bedroom and was dressing.

Defendant was initially charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse (Ill.Rev.Stat.1985, ch. 38, par. 12-16(c)(1)) and aggravated criminal sexual assault (Ill.Rev.Stat.1985, ch. 38, par. 12-14(b)(1)) for allegedly touching the vaginal area and penetrating with his finger the anal area of a 10-year-old girl.

As defendant approached Renee's bed, Anna shouted from the stairway, asking the defendant what was taking him so long. Defendant responded that he had tripped over an ashtray and the telephone placed near the bed in Anna's room. Defendant ran into the bedroom from the hallway and jingled the telephone and ashtray. Next, defendant returned to Renee's bed, leaned over her, removed her bed covers, pulled up her nightgown and housecoat, and put his hand inside her panties. Renee did not scream but turned over with her back toward the defendant. According to Renee, defendant then "stuck his hand down there in my bottom" and "put his finger in the crack and pulled it out."

When defendant went downstairs, Renee ran to her mother's bedroom and looked out the window to determine whether defendant had gone. Renee claimed she was too scared to tell her mother while defendant was present. Renee then went downstairs and reported the incident to her mother.

On cross-examination, defendant's attorney pointed out a discrepancy in Renee's recitation. At trial, Renee claimed she awoke due to thirst, while the police officer's report indicates she told him defendant's voice woke her. Renee also reported that she had not seen the defendant before that night.

Anna Johnson testified that she and defendant were in her bedroom from approximately 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. on October 8, 1985. At approximately 3 a.m., Anna left defendant in the bedroom while she went downstairs to use the bathroom. Shortly thereafter, she called upstairs asking defendant what was taking him so long. Defendant replied he was having a hard time finding his clothes; then Anna heard some noise which defendant explained was the telephone and ashtray Anna kept on the floor near her bed. Defendant then came downstairs and kissed her good-bye.

When defendant had left, Anna noticed Renee standing behind her. Renee was stammering and stuttering and asked, "Mom, who was that man?" According to Anna, Renee told her that the defendant had touched her private parts and hurt her.

Anna confirmed that Renee had never met defendant. Additionally, Anna disclosed that Renee's bed had been in its location in the hallway for approximately four months, during which time defendant had a sexual relationship with Anna and visited about once a week. The next day, Anna took Renee to a hospital, but an examination was uneventful, and Anna summoned the police.

The police arranged for Anna to telephone defendant, relating Renee's accusations. The police recorded the telephone conversation, which was admitted into evidence, and a transcript is included in the record on appeal. Pursuant to the conversation, defendant visited Anna's home that morning to discuss further the accusations. The police videotaped the meeting. The State offered and the trial court admitted the videotape into evidence, but it is not included with the record on appeal.

At the close of the State's case, the court granted defendant's motion for a directed verdict, in part, finding defendant not guilty of aggravated sexual assault.

Defendant denied touching Renee for his own sexual satisfaction. Defendant's account revealed that after Anna left the room in the early morning of October 8, 1985, he spent three to five minutes dressing because he could not find his clothes easily in the dark. Once in the doorway separating the bedroom and the hallway, defendant tripped and fell into the hallway, falling on a cot where Renee was sleeping. Defendant proceeded to pick himself up and patted whomever was on the cot to excuse himself. Defendant denied touching the child's sex organs and related that his hands never went under the covers of the bed. Defendant reached back and ...

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