Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 96--CF--0953 Honorable Raymond J. McKoski, Judge, Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Geiger delivered the opinion of the court.
Following a jury trial, the defendant, George Hindson, was found guilty of 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/12--14(b)(1) (West 1994)) and 1 count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse (720 ILCS 5/12--16(c)(1)(i) (West 1994)) and was sentenced to 72 years' imprisonment. On appeal, the defendant argues that (1) the trial court erred in admitting certain hearsay testimony during the trial; and (2) his sentence was excessive.
On May 1, 1996, the defendant and his wife, Edna Hindson, were charged by indictment with 43 counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child (720 ILCS 5/12--14.1 (West 1996)), 2 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse (720 ILCS 5/12--16(c)(1)(i) (West 1994)), and 1 count of aggravated battery (720 ILCS 5/12--4(c) (West 1994)). The charges of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child were later amended to charges of aggravated criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/12--14(b)(1) (West 1994)). On August 21, 1996, the defendant was subsequently charged with an additional six counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault. Specifically, the indictments alleged that the defendant and Edna had performed numerous sex acts upon Edna's 10-year- old daughter, K.M., and upon the couple's 8-year-old son, R.C. Edna pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against the defendant in exchange for a sentence of 6 to 30 years' imprisonment.
On July 12, 1996, pursuant to section 115--10 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (the Code) (725 ILCS 5/115--10 (West 1996)), the trial court conducted a hearing to determine the admissibility of certain hearsay statements made by K.M. and R.C. At the hearing, Kathy Mountford testified that she became a foster parent for K.M. and R.C. on September 11, 1995. Mountford testified that the children talked to her about the numerous acts of sexual abuse committed upon them by the defendant and their mother. Mountford testified that the first of these conversations took place in April 1996, shortly before Easter. Mountford related that this conversation occurred after she called one of her sons "my dear." K.M. complained about this comment, stating that she did not like this name because the defendant used to call her that. K.M. also told Mountford that the defendant called her "little princess" when he was drunk and that he would touch her.
Mountford further testified that, on April 8, 1996, R.C. told her that the defendant made him and his sister watch movies in which people were wearing no clothing and that his mom and the defendant would perform the acts portrayed in the movies upon him and his sister. Specifically, R.C. explained that in the movies, "the woman would put her mouth on the man's d*** and the man would put his d*** in the girl's private parts."
Mountford also testified that, in the fall of 1995, she had Discussions with K.M. concerning her personal safety. At this time, K.M. told Mountford that she was fearful of heavily-set bald men, as these were the physical characteristics of the defendant. At this time, K.M. also stated that the defendant would "come in and do things and touch [her]." Mountford also testified that, in January or February 1996, K.M. had also told her that K.M.'s mother and the defendant had "touched" her and had told her to touch them in "their private areas." Mountford testified that, on June 3, 1996, K.M. told her that she had heard her parents say that "if [they] kept doing this, [they] could get [K.M.] pregnant." Mountford further testified that, on June 9, 1996, K.M. told her about other specific sexual acts that the defendant had performed upon her.
At the close of the hearing, the trial court admitted into evidence most of the statements made to Mountford by K.M. and R.C. However, the trial court denied the admission of testimony relating to those comments K.M. made to Mountford in June 1996, finding that they were unreliable because they were made too far into the ongoing investigation against the defendant.
On October 7, 1996, the case proceeded to a jury trial. At trial, K.M. testified that, during the summer of 1995, she was 10 years old and lived in Antioch with R.C., her mother, and the defendant. During this time, she testified that the defendant touched her in ways that she did not like to be touched. She testified that the defendant touched her breasts, vagina, and butt. She testified that the defendant placed his mouth on her vagina and at times would insert various things into her vagina, including his penis, a dildo, a knife, and his fingers. She testified that the defendant would touch her breasts with his hands or his mouth. She also stated that the defendant inserted his fingers into her butt.
K.M. further testified that the defendant made her perform sexual acts on other members of the family. The defendant made her bite him on the chest or rub his penis with her hands or put it in her mouth. The defendant also made her touch her brother's penis with her mouth and hands and made her brother touch her breasts and vagina. Furthermore, K.M. testified that the defendant made her touch her mother's vagina and breasts with her hands, and her mother would perform the same acts on her. K.M. testified that she performed these acts because she was scared of the defendant and because he had told her that "something would happen to [her] mom or [her] brother" if she did not.
R.C. testified that, during the summer of 1995, he was eight years old and lived with his sister, mother, and the defendant. R.C. testified that, during this time, the defendant touched R.C.'s "wiener" with his hands and butt. R.C. testified that the defendant also made him touch the defendant's "wiener" with his mouth, hands, and butt. R.C. testified that the defendant "put his wiener up [R.C.'s] butt," and R.C. put his "wiener" in his father's butt as well. R.C. also testified that his mother made him touch her breasts, vagina, and butt and place his mouth on her vagina. R.C. stated that his mother made him put his "wiener" in her vagina, touch her breasts with his hands, and put his "wiener" up her butt. R.C. further testified that the defendant made K.M. touch his "wiener" with her hands, mouth, and vagina. R.C. stated that his parents told him that if he did not perform these acts, they would hurt him and his sister.
Edna Hindson, the defendant's wife, testified that she had pleaded guilty and had agreed to testify truthfully in exchange for a sentence of 6 to 30 years' imprisonment. Edna testified that the family had moved to Antioch in the latter part of July 1995. During this time, the defendant would get up during the night, awaken her, and then awaken the children. At this time, the defendant would play with K.M.'s breasts, stick his finger in her vagina, and have K.M. put her mouth on his penis and her finger in his anus. Edna also said that on one occasion the defendant had put his penis in K.M.'s vagina. Edna also testified that the defendant told her (Edna) to suck R.C.'s penis and to put her finger up his butt. The defendant then instructed R.C. to pinch Edna's breasts, lick her vagina, and put his penis in her vagina. The defendant also directed K.M. to put her finger in Edna's vagina and anus, to lick her vagina, and to pinch her breasts.
Edna further testified that the defendant told the children to perform sexual acts on each other. She observed R.C. place his mouth on K.M.'s vagina, insert his penis in K.M.'s vagina, and place his finger in K.M.'s anus. She also observed K.M. touch R.C.'s penis with her hand and her mouth and place her fingers in R.C.'s anus. On one occasion, Edna testified that she urinated into the defendant's mouth, and the defendant then told the children to do the same to each other, which they did. Edna testified that she and the children performed all of these acts because they were afraid of what the defendant would do to them. Edna did not testify as to the specific dates on which these actions occurred; however, she did state that some of the abuse occurred on the night of August 26, 1995, through the morning of August 27, 1995.
On cross-examination, Edna admitted that, late in July or early in August 1995, she twice had sex with the children in the afternoon when no one else was present. Edna testified that she and the defendant performed sexual acts on the children only over a period of one month, although she did not inform the police of this abuse until her arrest in April 1996.
Mountford also testified at trial. Mountford testified in a manner consistent with her testimony at the section 115--10 hearing. However at trial, Mountford did provide more details of some of the comments that K.M. and R.C. made to her. Mountford testified that, in September 1995, K.M. had told her that the defendant "would touch her all over in places where he shouldn't and made her feel uncomfortable." Mountford also testified that, in January or February 1996, K.M. told her that her parents told her that it was okay for K.M. and R.C. to sleep in the ...