SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS
526 N.E.2d 135, 123 Ill. 2d 204, 121 Ill. Dec. 941 1988.IL.970
Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Third District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Peoria County, the Hon. Calvin R. Stone, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE MILLER delivered the opinion of the court. JUSTICE CLARK, specially Concurring.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MILLER
Following a bench trial in the circuit court of Peoria County, the defendant, Donald Parker, was convicted of the offense of sexual relations within families. The trial Judge imposed a $1,000 fine and sentenced the defendant to 30 months' probation conditioned upon his serving a one-year term of periodic imprisonment. The appellate court reversed the defendant's conviction (152 Ill. App. 3d 732), and we allowed the State's petition for leave to appeal (107 Ill. 2d R. 315(a)).
At the trial, the defendant's stepson, who was 18 years old at the time of the offense, testified that on December 31, 1985, he twice performed oral sex on the defendant, once in the early evening and once at approximately midnight. He further testified that such behavior had been going on since he was in fifth or sixth grade. A police officer also testified that on January 3, 1986, in response to questioning, the defendant admitted that his stepson had performed oral sex on him. The victim's mother testified that she married the defendant on July 19, 1976, and that the defendant had never adopted the victim.
The appellate court found that the statute under which the defendant was convicted (Sexual Relations Within Families, section 11-11 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 11-11)) was ambiguous. The court stated that criminal statutes must be strictly construed in favor of a defendant and reversed the defendant's conviction because it believed that any interpretation of the statute, as enacted, required the court to speculate as to the statute's meaning. 152 Ill. App. 3d at 735.
The statute in effect at the time of the defendant's trial provided:
"Sexual Relations Within Families. (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 that he or she is related to the other person as follows: (i) Brother or sister, either of the whole blood or the half blood; or (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.
The State argues that the appellate court improperly held that the statute does not apply to a stepparent-stepchild relationship. The State contends that the language of the statute is clear, and that the legislature intended in section 11 -- 11 to cover all parent-child and stepparent-stepchild relationships where the child or stepchild is over 18 years old.
The defendant argues that the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the offense of sexual relations within families because the statute does not prohibit such conduct between a stepparent and stepchild over the age of 17. The defendant contends that the language of the statute is ambiguous and that because penal statutes must be strictly construed in favor of defendants, the appellate court correctly held that the statute was not applicable to him. The defendant further argues that the legislature did not intend to include the stepparent-stepchild relationship under the statute and that the subsequent ...