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12/07/89 the People of the State of v. John Edward Sanders

December 7, 1989

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

JOHN EDWARD SANDERS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

THE DEFENDANT, JOHN EDWARD SANDERS, APPEALS FROM HIS CONVICTION FOR AGGRAVATED CRIMINAL SEXUAL ASSAULT. (ILL. RE

v.

STAT. 1987, CH. 38, PAR. 12-14.) WE AFFIRM.



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT

548 N.E.2d 103, 191 Ill. App. 3d 483, 138 Ill. Dec. 873 1989.IL.1906

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Vermilion County; the Hon. John P. O'Rourke, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

PRESIDING JUSTICE KNECHT delivered the opinion of the court. LUND and GREEN, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE KNECHT

On April 26, 1988, the defendant was charged by information in Vermilion County with two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, par. 12-14.) The charged misconduct was that the defendant, who was 17 years of age or older, committed an act of sexual penetration with the victim, S.J., who was under 13 years of age, on two separate occasions in the fall of 1987. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, par. 12-14(b)(1).) On December 14, 1988, a jury found the defendant guilty on both counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault. On March 3, 1989, the Vermilion County circuit court sentenced the defendant to concurrent nine-year terms of imprisonment.

S.J. testified she was born on December 5, 1974. She met the defendant in October of 1987. They engaged in unprotected sexual relations on two separate occasions. She became pregnant and gave birth to a child on July 5, 1988.

S.J. offered conflicting testimony on her age at trial. S.J. stated she had probably been 12 years old during the entire sexual contact period on direct examination. On cross-examination, however, S.J. conceded she could have been 13 years old during that period. Attributing the conflicts in her testimony to inattentiveness and nervousness, S.J. confirmed she had to have been 12 years old during the entire sexual contact period because she was already pregnant on her thirteenth birthday.

Gene Woodard (Woodard), the investigating police officer, testified regarding his interview with S.J. in February of 1988. S.J. stated she was then 3 1/2 to 4 months pregnant. She named the defendant as the sexual partner responsible for her pregnancy.

Woodard also testified regarding his interview with the defendant in February of 1988. The defendant voluntarily waived his Miranda rights. The defendant stated he had engaged in unprotected sexual relations with S.J. on two separate occasions in the fall of 1987. The defendant next stated he had known of the true age of S.J. on only the second occasion. The defendant stated it was possible for him to have impregnated S.J.

The defendant contends he was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of aggravated criminal sexual assault. In support of this contention, he asserts the evidence was conflicting on the age of the victim. The defendant therefore submits his conviction must be reversed. We disagree.

In sex offense cases, the issue of criminal culpability often depends on the credibility of the witnesses at trial. Credibility is a determination resting within the exclusive province of the jury. The jury will simultaneously resolve any testimonial conflicts in determining the credibility of the witnesses. (People v. Collins (1985), 106 Ill. 2d 237, 261-62, 478 N.E.2d 267, 277.) A court of review will reverse the determination of the jury only when the evidence is so improbable or unsatisfactory as to raise a reasonable doubt of criminal culpability. People v. Boyd (1980), 87 Ill. App. 3d 978, 983, 409 N.E.2d 392, 397.

Aggravated criminal sexual assault consists of three elements: (1) a defendant who is 17 years of age or older; (2) a victim who is under 13 years of age; and (3) an act of sexual penetration. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, par. 12-14(b)(1); People v. Roy (1970), 124 Ill. App. 2d 52, 61, 260 N.E.2d 5, 9.) The sole element in dispute is the age of the victim.

We believe the evidence was sufficient for the jury to have reasonably found the defendant guilty of the charged misconduct. S.J. testified she had been 12 years old during the entire sexual contact period. Her credibility as a witness was not seriously undercut even though the defense may have assailed her testimony on cross-examination. (See People v. Voight (1979), 72 Ill. App. 3d 472, 474-76, 391 N.E.2d 219, 221-22.) More importantly, the age testimony of S.J. was corroborated by an important and independent evidentiary factor: the voluntary statement of the defendant on his sexual relationship with S.J. and his admission he knew S.J. was 12 when he engaged in sexual relations with her the second time. We also note the successful delivery by S.J. of an apparently full-term child in July ...


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