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People v. Marcotte

April 22, 2003

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
JUDI L. MARCOTTE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 21st Judicial Circuit, Kankakee County, Illinois No. 00-CM-373 Honorable Susan S. Tungate, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Holdridge

Following a bench trial, the defendant, Judi L. Marcotte, was found guilty of disorderly conduct by knowingly transmitting a false report of the sexual abuse of a child to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) (720 ILCS 5/26--1(a)(7) (West 1998)). On appeal, the defendant argues that the State failed to prove the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

The record of the trial in this case consists of a certified bystander's report.

At trial, Detective Gregory Kunce of the Bourbonnais Police Department testified for the State. He stated that he investigated an anonymous telephone call placed to the DCFS "hotline" on September 3, 1999, alleging that a five-year old child had been sexually abused at the Fortin Villa Daycare Center (Fortin Villa) in Bourbonnais. Kunce said that he assisted in interviewing the child and determined that the child had not been abused.

The officer testified that the child's mother, Rachel Gagnon, told him about a conversation that Gagnon had with Gina Blanchette in August 1999. In that conversation, Blanchette said that the defendant had told her during a phone conversation that DCFS was investigating Fortin Villa. At trial, the defendant objected that the officer's testimony was hearsay. The court overruled the defendant's objection and admitted the testimony for the purpose of establishing Kunce's investigation.

Kunce said that he went to the defendant's home to interview the defendant concerning Gagnon's statement. During this interview, the defendant denied contacting DCFS. Kunce stated that during the interview, the defendant's answers were short and vague. While at her home, Kunce noted that the defendant provided daycare. He observed other parents coming and going from the residence.

Kunce testified that the defendant phoned him at the police station "a day or so after" he interviewed her at her home. In response to one of Kunce's questions, the defendant said that if a telephone call was made to DCFS from her home, it was not made by her. She suggested that such a call may have been made by Blanchette because Blanchette had access to the defendant's home and telephone. Blanchette testified that at one time the defendant provided childcare for Blanchette's child.

Kunce initiated a second telephone conversation with the defendant during her daycare business hours. He told the defendant that he had a copy of her telephone records which showed that the call to DCFS originated from her telephone number. On cross-examination, Kunce said that, contrary to what he told the defendant, her phone records did not show a call from her home to DCFS. He submitted that "1-800" numbers could not be traced. Kunce stated that he did not obtain a copy of the DCFS "hotline" tape of the phone call, "or any other verbal evidence or telephone documentation pertaining to the alleged complaint to DCFS."

Kunce submitted that this second phone conversation with the defendant lasted approximately 45 minutes. He said that in response to his last question to her she said, "yes[,] I did it." According to Kunce, he then told the defendant that he was going to arrest her. On cross-examination, Kunce stated that he did not remember the exact words that the defendant used in her "claimed 'admission[,]'" but that she used words similar to those he used in his previous testimony.

Blanchette testified for the State. She said that during a phone conversation she initiated with the defendant in August 1999, the defendant told Blanchette that the defendant heard a rumor that DCFS was investigating Fortin Villa. Blanchette said that she later called Gagnon and Diana Parker, the director of Fortin Villa, and told them of the rumor. During cross-examination, Blanchette stated that she did not know who called DCFS. She submitted that she did not call DCFS.

Parker testified that Kunce investigated the child abuse claim. She, however, did not recall a phone call regarding the rumor that DCFS was investigating Fortin Villa.

The defendant took the witness stand in her own defense. She testified that she was a licensed daycare provider since 1998. The defendant contended that she never made any contact with DCFS regarding an alleged sexual abuse incident at Fortin Villa. She submitted that she did not admit to Kunce that she made such a phone call to DCFS.

The defendant stated that the second phone conversation with Kunce took place while she was providing childcare, when she was tired, and when a speech therapist was at her home working with her child. When she told Kunce that her phone conversation with him was going on too long, Kunce told her that it would be against the law for her to hang up on him. The defendant testified that out of her exasperation over the length of the call and because of Kunce's persistence, she sarcastically told Kunce, "Yes[,] I made a phone ...


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