Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County Nos. 99JA793; 99JA 794; 99JA 795 Honorable Paul B Biebel, Jr., Judge Presiding
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Cerda
Respondents A.G., L. G., and B.G., minors, appeal from the September 1999 finding of the circuit court of Cook County that they were not tortured emotionally when they were forced by their mother to hold down a fourth sibling, N.G., while their mother, respondent Leslie G., beat her into unconsciousness. The court order adjudicated the children wards of the court and appointed the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as their guardian. We remand.
L.G., who was born on January 10, 1988, was taken into custody on March 29, 1999. The State filed a petition for adjudication of wardship. It was alleged that L.G. was neglected based upon several occasions in which L.G.'s mother struck L.G.'s siblings with various objects causing cuts, welts, and bruises, and based upon the mother's threats to kill L.G.'s siblings. It was also alleged that L.G. was abused because her mother had struck L.G. with various objects, resulting in welts and in bruises on her back and face. It was also alleged that the facts supported findings that excessive corporal punishment was inflicted and that there was a substantial risk of physical injury to the minor by other than accidental means which would be likely to cause death, disfigurement, impairment of emotional health, or loss or impairment of any bodily function.
Similar petitions were filed for B.G., who was born on September 10, 1985, and for A.G., who was born on November 28, 1998.
The trial court ordered that the children be removed from the home and be placed into temporary custody.
The petitions were amended to add torture as a basis for finding abuse. It was alleged that on or about February 23, 1999, the mother forced A.G., L.G. and B.G. to restrain N.G. while she beat N.G. into unconsciousness. In addition, it was alleged that the mother had threatened her children with bodily harm on several occasions if they refused to restrain their siblings during beatings.
At trial, there was evidence that the mother forced the three children to hold down their older sister, N.G., while she was beaten to unconsciousness. N.G. was unconscious for more than an hour. According to a Catholic Charities supervisor who interviewed A.G. and L.G., L.G. stated that her mother said the other children would be beaten if they did not help her hold down a sister. A.G. gave a similar story, stating that she was fearful that the same thing would happen to her if she did not participate.
On September 21, 1999, the trial court found that the minors were abused or neglected on the bases of injurious environment, physical abuse, substantial risk/physical injury, and excessive corporal punishment. The findings were made that the children had been forced to hold down siblings during beatings administered by the mother, that the children had emotional scars, and that only N.G. was physically tortured. The trial judge invited a court of review to provide guidance on the definition of torture.
On November 23, 1999, a dispositional order was entered for A.G., granting custody to the Department of Children and Family Services with the right to place her. Dispositional orders for the other children do not appear in the record.
On December 22, 1999, the three minors filed a notice of appeal from the lack of a finding that they were also tortured.
The issue on appeal is whether the term "torture" as used in the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Act) (705 ILCS 405/2-3(2) (West 1998)) includes conduct that ...