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People v. Tittlebach

August 17, 2001


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 99-MR-285 Honorable Judge John W. Darrah, Judge, Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Byrne


Following a bench trial, respondent, John Tittlebach, was adjudicated to be a sexually violent person pursuant to the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act (the Commitment Act) (725 ILCS 207/1 et seq. (West 1998)). On appeal, respondent argues that (1) the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was a sexually violent person; (2) the trial court failed to provide a statutorily required hearing prior to ordering respondent committed to a secure facility; and (3) his commitment was unconstitutional because the trial court did not specifically find that he lacked volitional control over his violent criminal behavior. We affirm.


The present action began when the State filed a petition requesting that respondent be evaluated and adjudicated a sexually violent person and committed to the care and custody of the Department of Human Services (DHS). See 725 ILCS 207/15 (West 1998). The petition alleged that, in 1997, respondent had been convicted of criminal sexual assault and sentenced to four years' imprisonment and, in 1980, respondent had pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent liberties with a minor and had received four years' probation. Respondent was scheduled for mandatory supervised release on May 13, 1999, for the 1997 offense. The petition alleged that respondent had been diagnosed as suffering from pedophilia, a "sexually attracted to females, nonexclusive type," and "alcohol abuse in a controlled environment" and that these mental disorders created a substantial probability that he will engage in acts of sexual violence.

On June 8, 1999, following a hearing, the trial court determined there was probable cause to conduct further proceedings on the State's petition. The trial court also ordered that respondent be transferred to the DHS for an evaluation as to whether he was a sexually violent person. See 725 ILCS 207/30(c) (West 1998).

At the commitment trial, Sara Windle testified about the facts that led to respondent's 1997 conviction. Respondent sexually assaulted Windle over a nine-year period when he lived with Windle and her mother. The abuse, which included oral and digital penetration, began when Windle was seven years old.

The State also called Dr. Agnes Jonas and Dr. Barry Leavitt. Dr. Jonas interviewed respondent prior to and following the probable cause hearing and diagnosed respondent as a pedophile, sexually attracted to females, nonexclusive type. Dr. Jonas also diagnosed respondent as afflicted with alcohol abuse. Dr. Jonas testified to the factual basis of her diagnosis and identified several factors suggesting that respondent would commit future acts of sexual violence. In her opinion, there was a substantial probability that respondent would commit a sexually violent offense in the future.

Dr. Leavitt interviewed respondent following the probable cause hearing. He diagnosed respondent as a nonexclusive, "female type" pedophile, suffering from "alcohol abuse in a controlled environment," and having a personality disorder not otherwise specified with narcissistic and antisocial personality features. Dr. Leavitt used several recognized tests to predict respondent's likelihood of reoffending. Based on his interviews with respondent, respondent's history of sexual violence, and the results of the psychological testing, Dr. Leavitt opined that respondent's emotional or volitional capacity predisposed him to commit acts of sexual violence. Dr. Leavitt concluded that a substantial probability existed that respondent would commit another sexually violent crime in the future.

Respondent's expert, Dr. Larry Davis, interviewed respondent for two hours and reviewed Dr. Leavitt's and Dr. Jonas's reports. Davis agreed that respondent was a pedophile but concluded that, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, there was not a substantial probability that respondent would reoffend. Dr. Davis based this opinion on the fact that respondent demonstrated a pattern of molestation that slowly developed only in the intimate environment of a family setting. Because respondent was now 52 years old, his sex drive was diminished, and he most likely would have a relationship with a woman his own age who would not have young girls in the home, Dr. Davis concluded that there was not a substantial probability of reoffending. Dr. Davis suggested that a parole term could include a condition that respondent not reside in a home with prepubescent girls.

During closing, the trial court asked the prosecutor to address Dr. Davis's premise that living arrangements and age would render respondent less than substantially likely to reoffend. While admitting that a possible term for parole could include a condition that respondent not reside with prepubescent girls, the prosecutor argued that any parole term was limited and that women in their late forties can bear children or have custody of grandchildren.

The trial court adjudicated respondent to be a sexually violent person and ordered respondent committed to an institution in a secure facility for treatment. Respondent timely appeals.


I. Sufficiency of the ...

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