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12/27/89 the People of the State of v. Steven C. Scott

December 27, 1989

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

STEVEN C. SCOTT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, SECOND DISTRICT

549 N.E.2d 14, 192 Ill. App. 3d 594, 139 Ill. Dec. 691 1989.IL.2030

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County; the Hon. Joseph M. McCarthy, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

PRESIDING JUSTICE UNVERZAGT delivered the opinion of the court. REINHARD and INGLIS, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE UNVERZAGT

The defendant, Steven Scott, was indicted on two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault in violation of section 12-14 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 12-14) and one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in violation of section 12-16 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 12-16). These charges arose from the defendant's alleged sexual contact with two boys under the age of nine. Count I, which was severed from the other two and eventually nol-prossed by the State, is not at issue on appeal. The defendant was tried before a jury on counts II and III and was convicted of both counts. The defendant's motion for a new trial, grounded in issues not relevant here, was denied by the trial court. The defendant now appeals based on the existence in the record of two ambiguous notes that suggest the existence of communications between the Judge and the jury while the jury was deliberating. The defendant asks us to remand the cause to the trial court to determine the origin of these notes. The defendant also asks us to order a new trial if it is determined that the notes represent private communications between the Judge and the jury.

We will recite only those facts necessary to resolve this appeal. Between March and May 1986, the victim, a four-year-old boy, lived with his family in an apartment they rented from the defendant's parents. The defendant lived next door to the victim's family. The two families had a friendly relationship, and occasionally the defendant would baby-sit for the victim while the victim's mother would run errands. The charges at issue here stem from alleged sexual contact between the defendant and the victim, sometime between March and May 1986, on a day when the two were alone. Count II alleged that the defendant knowingly touched the penis of the victim for the purpose of his own sexual gratification. Count III alleged that the defendant placed his penis on the victim's penis. The victim testified to these events in court.

The victim's mother also testified that on March 10, 1987, the victim told her about the sexual contact with the defendant. According to the mother, the victim told her that the defendant attempted to put his penis in the child's anus and that he ejaculated on the child's stomach. The mother's testimony does not reflect penis-to-penis contact between the defendant and the victim. Officer Michael Beth of the Elgin police department testified that on March 11, 1987, the victim's mother brought her child to the police station. The victim told Officer Beth that the defendant had touched the victim's penis, attempted to put his penis in the victim's anus, and ejaculated on the victim's stomach. Officer Beth testified that the victim also demonstrated these events through the use of anatomically correct dolls. Officer Beth's testimony does not indicate that the victim told him of any penis-to-penis contact with the defendant.

Officer Beth also testified that he and a fellow officer spoke with the defendant at the police station on March 26, 1987. The defendant was not in custody, but the officers read him his Miranda rights before they began to question him. Officer Beth informed the defendant that he was a suspect in a sexual abuse case. The defendant indicated that about one year earlier he and the victim had, in fact, touched each other's penises. Officer Beth's testimony did not reveal that the defendant told him at this time that the previous sexual contact with the victim had been penis to penis. Officer Beth further testified that he spoke with the defendant a second time on March 28, 1987, at the Elgin police station. Again, the defendant was not in custody, but Officer Beth advised him of his Miranda rights. Officer Beth testified that, in this second interview, the defendant admitted that he had rubbed his penis on the victim's buttocks, stomach and penis.

On cross-examination, Officer Beth testified that when he reviewed the notes he had taken in the March 28, 1987, interview with the defendant he encountered some difficulty reading them. At some point thereafter, Officer Beth called the defendant on the telephone to clarify what had been said during the interview. The officer's police report did not indicate that this telephone call was made. Officer Beth said that, aside from what he read when reviewing his police report, he could not remember exactly what the defendant said during the March 28 interview. He indicated that the language in his report reflecting the defendant's admission of penis-to-penis contact could have been added after the telephone conversation, but he believed that he was told this by the defendant during both the interview and the telephone conversation.

On redirect examination, Officer Beth testified that, although he used his police report to refresh his memory, he also independently recalled what transpired in the March 28 interview of the defendant. He was not, he said, testifying solely on the basis of his written report. He did not believe that the defendant gave him any information in the telephone conversation that was not also given during the March 28 interview. On re-cross-examination, Officer Beth indicated that he was testifying primarily on the basis of his written report.

The defendant testified on his own behalf, and he admitted that he touched his penis to the victim's stomach and buttocks and that he had fondled the victim's penis. He denied ever having penis-to-penis contact with the victim. He also denied that he ever told Officer Beth, either in person or during the later telephone conversation, that he had engaged in any penis-to-penis contact with the victim.

After it received instructions pertaining to aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and also instructions regarding the lesser-included offense of battery, the jury retired to deliberate. The trial transcripts do not indicate that the jury submitted any questions to the trial court during the course of deliberations. The jury returned verdicts of guilty on the charges of aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and it also returned two guilty verdicts on the lesser-included offense of battery.

After it entered judgment on the verdicts, the trial court denied the defendant's post-trial motion for a new trial. The grounds for that motion are not at issue on appeal. After vacating the defendant's convictions of the lesser-included battery offenses, the trial court imposed concurrent sentences of eight years' imprisonment for the offense of aggravated criminal ...


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