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In re J.B.

June 28, 2002

IN RE J.B., C.T., AND D.C., RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES,
(THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE
v.
JAMES C., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.)



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Nos. 99 JA 946, 99 JA 947 99 JA 948 Honorable James M. Obbish, Judge Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Tully

UNPUBLISHED

Respondent, James C. appeals from the orders of the trial court finding J.B., C.T., and D.C. to be abused minors and adjudging the minors to be wards of the court. On appeal, respondent contends that (1) the trial court erred when it named him as the perpetrator of the sexual abuse of J.B. because doing so deprived him of his right to due process, and (2) the trial court erred when it found that he was unwilling and unfit to care for D.C. We affirm.

BACKGROUND

On April 15, 1999, the State filed petitions for the adjudication of wardship of J.B., C.T., and D.C. Each petition identified Roena T. as that minors' mother. The petitions for J.B. and C.T. indicated that their fathers were unknown. The petition for D.C. identified respondent as her father. The petition for D.C. alleged that she was neglected because she was born with a controlled substance in her system. The petition further alleged that D.C. was subjected to an environment injurious to her welfare because Roena T. had previously given birth to three infants exposed to illegal drugs and had never completed drug treatment. The petitions for C.T. and J.B. alleged that they were exposed to an environment injurious to their welfare based on the same allegation of illegal drug use.

On April 16, 1999, the trial court found that probable cause existed that the minors were abused or neglected based on the allegation that Roena T. had given birth to three drug-exposed infants. The trial court further found that Roena T. had entered a 90-day in-patient drug treatment program. The trial court ordered that D.C. remain in the care of respondent. The trial court granted temporary custody of C.T. and J.B. to respondent. The trial court also entered an order of protection that, inter alia, barred Roena T. from residing with respondent and the minors. On August 25, 1999, the trial court entered a modified order of protection that allowed Roena T. to reside with respondent and the minors.

On September 14, 1999, the trial court vacated its prior temporary custody orders and granted the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) temporary custody of the minors. On October 12, 1999, the trial court granted the State leave to file amended petitions for adjudication of wardship. The State amended its petition in J.B.'s case and added an allegation that she had been sexually abused by respondent. The State amended the other two petitions and added an allegation that C.T. and D.C. were subjected to an injurious environment because a sibling had been sexually abused by respondent.

On November 24, 1999, the State moved to consolidate the three cases that are the subject of this appeal with nine additional petitions for adjudication of wardship. The additional cases involved the children of Roena T.'s sister, who had been residing with respondent. The trial court granted the motion and continued the matter for trial.

On May 17, 2000, the trial court commenced an adjudicatory hearing. Gloria Lewis, a DCFS investigator testified that on September 10, 1999, she was assigned to investigate allegations of physical harm and sexual molestation. Lewis testified that she interviewed J.B. J.B. told Lewis that respondent whipped her with an extension cord. J.B. also said that respondent touched her with his "thing" and touched her "stuff" with his hand. J.B. further stated that respondent put his thing between her legs. Respondent's attorney indicated that he had no questions for Lewis on cross-examination.

Michael G. Bazarek, a Chicago Police Officer, testified that he interviewed respondent on September 12, 1999. Bazarek testified that respondent made a "handwritten" statement to Bazarek and an assistant State's Attorney. Respondent was given an opportunity to review the statement and made corrections. Respondent, Bazarek and the assistant State's Attorney each signed the statement.

Respondent objected to admission of the statement arguing that it was hearsay. The trial court overruled the objection holding that respondent adopted the handwritten statement when he made corrections and signed it. Bazarek further testified that respondent made a second handwritten statement that day. Respondent raised the same objection to the second statement, and the trial court overruled respondent's objection.

On cross-examination by respondent, Bazarek testified that the statements did not record respondent's statements to the police word for word. Bazarek further testified that respondent was arrested at 6 p.m and did not give the statements until approximately 4:30 a.m.

In the statement, respondent admitted that in February 1999, when J.B. was eight years old, he rubbed his penis against her vagina. Respondent stated that he rubbed his penis against her vagina for approximately four minutes. Respondent further stated that he stopped because it was wrong because of J.B.'s young age.

The State also presented the medical records related to D.C.'s birth. The medical records indicated that Roena T. tested positive for cocaine and ...


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