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People v. Hodor

July 07, 2003


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Boone County. No. 00--CF--133 Honorable Gerald F. Grubb, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Grometer


Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Boone County, defendant Robert J. Hodor was convicted of one count of criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/12--13(a)(3) (West 2000)). The trial court sentenced defendant to four years' imprisonment. On appeal, defendant argues that the trial court committed several evidentiary errors that deprived him of a fair trial. Defendant also complains that defense counsel's failure to object to these alleged errors resulted in ineffective assistance of counsel. We reverse and remand the cause for a new trial.


On or about August 8, 2000, defendant was charged by criminal complaint with one count of criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/12--13(a)(3) (West 2000)). The State later charged defendant by information. As amended, the information alleged that, on or about the last week of January or the first week of February 2000, defendant placed his tongue in the sex organ of his stepdaughter, Marilyn S. Prior to trial, defendant filed a motion in limine seeking to bar the State from presenting testimony from "counselors." The motion stated "[a]ny testimony from counselors would be hearsay and cumulative as to what the minor may testify to." At the hearing on his motion, defendant argued that any statements Marilyn made to the counselors during psychological examinations were inadmissible. The State agreed that Marilyn's remarks to her counselors during these sessions would be inadmissible, and the trial court granted defendant's motion.

The State's first witness was Marilyn S. Marilyn testified that during the last week of January and the first week of February 2000, she was 17 years old and a senior at Belvidere High School. At that time, she resided on Poacher Circle in Belvidere with her mother, her stepfather (defendant), her stepbrother, her stepsister, and Melissa S., her sister.

Marilyn recounted the events of the day of the alleged offense. Marilyn stated that she left the family residence at about 7 a.m. to go to school. After school, she attended track practice before returning home between 5:30 and 6 p.m. When she arrived home, only her sister, her stepbrother, her stepsister, and defendant were present. Marilyn had a snack, played with the dogs, and spoke with her sister and stepsister. She then went to her room to do homework. At about 8 p.m., Marilyn dined with her siblings. After dinner, Marilyn went upstairs, where she bathed, prepared her clothes for the following day, set her alarm clock, and dried her hair. At about 10 p.m., Marilyn dressed in a nightgown and went downstairs to say goodnight.

Marilyn encountered defendant in the kitchen where he was mixing something in a blender. Defendant told Marilyn he was preparing a White Russian. At defendant's request, Marilyn took a sip of the drink. Marilyn then escorted the dogs to the basement where they slept. As Marilyn was heading to bed, defendant called her into his bedroom. Marilyn entered the room. A radio was tuned to a popular station, and there were lit candles on the bed's headboard. Defendant had prepared two drinks. On three or four occasions, defendant suggested that Marilyn have a drink "to loosen up." Eventually, Marilyn began drinking. Marilyn identified the drink as a White Russian and testified that she became light-headed and queasy as she drank the beverage.

Initially, defendant and Marilyn talked about school, track, and her boyfriend. Defendant told Marilyn that he would talk to her mother about extending her curfew. Approximately 45 minutes into the conversation, defendant asked Marilyn how well she gave back rubs. Marilyn responded "okay, I guess." Defendant then took his shirt off and lay face down on the bed. Marilyn began massaging his back and shoulders. At some point, defendant told Marilyn to take off her clothes. She initially refused. However, defendant insisted, and Marilyn eventually complied. Shortly later, defendant told Marilyn that he was going to show her how to give a good back rub. Marilyn lay face down on the bed, and defendant began to massage her back. At defendant's request, Marilyn changed to a supine position. Defendant then rubbed lotion on Marilyn's shoulders, breasts, stomach, legs, and around her vagina. At one point, defendant placed his tongue in Marilyn's vagina and licked it inside and out. Marilyn told defendant to stop, and he did. Defendant then pulled down his shorts and placed Marilyn's hand on his penis. Marilyn asked defendant to leave her alone, and he told her she could go to bed. Marilyn dressed and ran to the bathroom, where she vomited. While Marilyn was in the bathroom, defendant entered with her underwear, which she had left in his bedroom. Marilyn then changed her pajamas and went to bed.

Approximately four months later, Marilyn and her sister, Melissa S., were discussing the fact that their mother was going to divorce defendant. At that time, Marilyn related part of what transpired between her and defendant months earlier. Later that same day, Marilyn's mother came to the store where Marilyn worked and had her recount the incident for the police.

Marilyn testified that the incident affected her school performance. Prior to the incident, she had perfect attendance at school. However, during the spring 2000 semester, she missed 12½ days of school. Marilyn also said that she had trouble concentrating at school. She stated that her grades were "usually honor roll," but that she had "a couple of C's [sic] and D's [sic]" during the spring 2000 semester. Marilyn testified that she began counseling in response to the incident between her and defendant.

Marilyn's mother, Barbara O., testified that she met defendant in 1991, when Marilyn was nine years old. Five months later, defendant began living with Barbara and her children. On February 14, 1998, Barbara and defendant got married. That same year the family moved to the Poacher Circle address.

During January and February 2000, Barbara was employed as a nurse at a health care center that was located about an hour's drive from her home. Normally, Barbara worked the 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift. However, due to surgery, Barbara was not working during most of January. She resumed working at the end of January. Late in January and early in February, Barbara worked the 3 to 11 p.m. shift because those were the only hours available.

Barbara testified that before she and defendant began experiencing marital problems, defendant initiated sexual relations with her on a few occasions. Normally, defendant would light candles in the bedroom and play music. Barbara testified that after her surgery, she and defendant had no sexual contact. On February 14, 2000, defendant informed Barbara that he was leaving her. Defendant moved out of the Poacher Circle home sometime in the middle of February. During the two-week period prior to moving out, defendant spent very little time in the house. Barbara described Marilyn's demeanor during the same two-week period as quiet. Normally, Marilyn ...

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