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08/02/89 In Re Carlenn H.

August 2, 1989

IN RE CARLENN H., A MINOR (THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF


APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, THIRD DIVISION

Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee, v.

Cynthia H., Respondent-Appellant)

542 N.E.2d 959, 186 Ill. App. 3d 535, 134 Ill. Dec. 613 1989.IL.1193

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Gerald Winiecki, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE RIZZI delivered the opinion of the court. WHITE and CERDA, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE RIZZI

The subject of this appeal is an order entered by the circuit court of Cook County for the adjudication of wardship and appointment of a guardian on behalf of a minor, Carlenn H. The circuit court found that the minor's mother, respondent Cynthia H., allowed a sex offense to be committed against her, and that the environment was injurious to her welfare. On appeal, respondent contends that the petition for adjudication of wardship failed to state a cause of action and that it failed to properly invoke the jurisdiction of the court. The respondent also contends that the court's finding that the child was abused was against the manifest weight of evidence, and that the trial court's finding that the minor's environment was injurious to her welfare was improper because it was based on evidence relating to sexual abuse.

Carlenn was nine years old at the time of the adjudicatory hearing and was the only person to testify. She testified that she previously resided on South Ada Street in Chicago with respondent and respondent's boyfriend, Michael Atkins. Carlenn stated that Atkins lived with them for three years beginning in 1983, but later testified that he came to the house in the autumn of 1985. Carlenn stated that Atkins entered her bedroom almost every night for approximately one year and subjected her to various forms of sexual activity, including fellatio and sexual intercourse. According to Carlenn, respondent was in another room of the house during these incidents. Carlenn also testified that Atkins threatened to kill her if she told anyone about the sexual activity.

Carlenn initially reported the incidents to respondent's friend whose only response was that it was "a shame." Carlenn stated that she eventually told respondent about the sexual activity but could not remember exactly when she spoke to respondent or her friend. Carlenn did say that she reported the incidents to respondent several times because she did not think that respondent believed her. The last person to whom Carlenn spoke was her aunt who, after being told about the sexual incidents on three separate occasions, contacted authorities.

On cross-examination, Carlenn stated that she did not report the incidents to respondent until March 1986, the date of her removal from the home. She later testified that she spoke with respondent about the sexual activity before she was taken from the respondent's custody. Carlenn acknowledged that she did not remember the exact time period, but knew that she had repeatedly told respondent of the abuse before reporting it to her aunt.

Following Carlenn's testimony and the admission of the medical record of her physical examination, the court made its findings. The court found that Carlenn was sexually abused and that respondent had allowed a sexual offense to be committed against her. The court based its findings on Carlenn's testimony and the inferences drawn there-from, particularly the testimony that the sexual activity occurred in the respondent's home on a daily basis for approximately one year.

Following the finding of sexual abuse, a Dispositional hearing was conducted. Theotis Lockett, a social worker for the Department of Children and Family Services, testified as to the recommendations of the therapists who had been counseling respondent and Carlenn. Their recommendation was that Carlenn not be returned to respondent's custody because Atkins was living with respondent, respondent did not believe that Atkins had sexually abused her daughter and Carlenn was afraid to return home while Atkins was living there.

Respondent's first contention is that the petition for the adjudication of wardship failed to state a cause of action and failed to invoke the jurisdiction of the "Juvenile Court." There is no jurisdictional tribunal that is designated as the Juvenile Court. Any matter which involves juvenile is within the jurisdiction of the circuit court, which derives its jurisdiction from the Illinois Constitution. (In re L.E.J. (1983), 115 Ill. App. 3d 993, 451 N.E.2d 289.) Under the Constitution of 1970, the circuit court has original jurisdiction "of all justiciable matters." (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, ยง 9; In re L.E.J., 115 Ill. App. 3d 993, 451 N.E.2d 289; In re Dragoo (1981), 96 Ill. App. 3d 1104, 422 N.E.2d 263.) ...


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