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01/29/96 S.G. v. PEARLIE G.

January 29, 1996



The Honorable Justice Wolfson delivered the opinion of the court: Campbell, P.j. and Braden, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wolfson

The Honorable Justice WOLFSON delivered the opinion of the court:

This case contains the ingredients for an inevitable clash with the statutory call for prompt dispositions in juvenile court abuse and neglect cases: an unconscionably crowded court calendar, an abundance of lawyers vigorously representing their clients, the existence of a variety of statutory rights, and a conscientious but overworked trial judge.

Section 2-14 of the Juvenile Court Act (705 ILCS 405/2-14 (West 1992) requires the dismissal of a petition alleging sexual abuse and neglect of children if the adjudicatory hearing is not held within 90 days of the day process is served. In addition, one continuance of 30 days is allowed for good cause. This case requires us to examine the statute, because 193 days went by between the time all necessary parties were served and the conclusion of the adjudicatory hearing.

We hold the legislature meant what it said in section 2-14. We find the trial court erred in refusing to dismiss the petitions without prejudice.


Pearlie G. is the mother of Wynetta G., Kory G., Selina G., and Carla G. Pearlie is represented by the public defender's office. Kory, Selina, and Carla are represented by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), and the Cook County State's Attorney represents the State. All are parties to this appeal. Pearlie is the appellant. Wynetta was represented by the Legal Assistance Foundation in the trial court, but has been dismissed from this appeal.

The first reported facts in this case took place on February 27, 1991, when the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) investigated a report that Wynetta was sexually abused by her mother's paramour.

Wynetta reported that Maurice Smith came into her room while she slept. He partially undressed her and then penetrated her. Wynetta woke up and ran into her brother Kory's room. She then ran to her mother's room, as she was bleeding from the vagina.

DCFS found credible evidence to support the report and "indicated" it. However, DCFS did not bring the family to the attention of the juvenile court. Wynetta eventually recanted her allegation against Maurice Smith. She said that she made up the charges because she did not like Maurice Smith and did not want her mother to see him.

The current case began on April 28, 1992, when petitions for adjudication of wardship were filed on behalf of Wynetta and her three siblings. At that time Wynetta was 15, Kory was 13, Selina was 12, and Carla was seven. The petitions alleged that the children were sexually abused, and that they were neglected because their environment was injurious to their welfare.

The petitions were filed after Kory called the DCFS hotline to report that his mother sexually assaulted him on three separate occasions. The Chicago police department began to investigate the allegations on April 21, 1992.

Kory's younger sister, Selina, reported that she witnessed one of the incidents of Kory's sex abuse by her mother. The mother was arrested and charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault.

On April 23, or 24, 1992, Kory recanted. He said that he made the story up because his mother was too strict with him. Selina also said she made the story up about witnessing Kory's sexual abuse.

Both Kory and Selina persisted in their recantations after police authorities told them that they could be prosecuted for giving false information to the police.

Temporary Custody Hearing

On April 28, 1992, the Court conducted a temporary custody hearing. Donna Hendricks of DCFS informed the court that the mother was incarcerated at 26th and California as a result of the sex abuse allegations. Ms. Hendricks testified that DCFS received a hotline report that Kory had been sexually abused by his mother. In addition, the mother's paramour, Maurice Smith, had been living in the home with the children since February, 1991, when DCFS "indicated" the report that he sexually abused Wynetta.

Ms. Hendricks said that she talked to all of the children. Kory responded positively when asked if his mother sexually abused him.

The court found probable cause, urgent and immediate necessity, and good cause why reasonable efforts could not prevent the removal of the children from the mother's custody. The court named Gary T. ...

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