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In re M.T.

February 06, 2004

IN RE M.T., A MINOR
(THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
M.T., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County Honorable Stuart F. Lubin Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Gallagher

PUBLISHED

Respondent, M.T., is a juvenile who was charged with indecent solicitation of an adult pursuant to section 11-6.5(a)(1)(ii) of the Criminal Code of 1961. 720 ILCS 5/11-6.5(a)(1)(ii) (West 2000). He was found guilty and, therefore, delinquent. Following a dispositional hearing, the trial court sentenced respondent to 30 days in the juvenile detention center and 18 months' probation. As a condition of probation, the trial court ordered 30 hours of community service, participation in the violence prevention program and the victim impact program, and mandatory counseling. Respondent was also ordered to undergo a sex offender evaluation and to register with the police as a sex offender. Respondent now appeals from his adjudication of delinquency and dispositional order of commitment.

BACKGROUND

On March 16, 2001, respondent was 16 years old and a sophomore at Luther South High School. On that day, during the eighth period of the school day, respondent had a conversation in the bathroom with A.T., who was also 16 years old. A.T. testified that he had known respondent since his freshman year, but that they were not friends and did not associate together. According to A.T., respondent "Asked me, did you want some head. So I said yeah." Respondent instructed A.T. to go to the science lab, located in room 114. This room, also referred to as Mr. Witt's room, was normally not occupied during eighth period because no class was scheduled. When he spoke with respondent, A.T. did not think that anyone else was in the bathroom.

According to 16-year-old A.D., however, he entered the bathroom during eighth period, saw respondent and A.T., and was told by respondent to "go tell that bitch to go down to Mr. Witt's room." A.D. understood respondent to be referring to E.J. *fn1 E.J. was a junior at Luther South and had just turned 18 years old on March 11, 2001.

A.D. returned to his classroom which, at the time, was being supervised by a substitute teacher who was engaged in watching a basketball game. A.D. relayed respondent's message to E.J. who said "damn," got up, and went to the science lab.

A.T. further testified that when he arrived at the science lab, respondent and E.J. were there. A.T. knew E.J. "from around school," but had never spoken with her before. A.T. could not hear what respondent might have been saying to E.J., but respondent pointed at A.T., at which point E.J. walked across the room, unzipped A.T.'s pants and performed an act of oral sex on him.

A.D. testified that, about seven to eight minutes after E.J. left the classroom, the substitute teacher left the classroom followed by A.D. and several other students. They all went to the science lab. A.D. testified that A.T. was not there and that he saw E.J. on her knees in front of respondent, who was seated in a chair.

E.J. testified that A.D. came to her class and told her to go to room 114 to meet respondent. She said that she went "[b]ecause I was afraid if I didn't go, [respondent] would threaten to beat me up." E.J. testified that on a prior occasion, respondent slammed her head into a locker when she refused to perform oral sex on "any guy in the school" in exchange for money.

Respondent testified on his own behalf. He testified that he met E.J. in 1999, when he was a freshman. He said that he began a sexual relationship with E.J. in April 2000 that lasted until the beginning of June 2000. He denied that he had any relationship with E.J. after June 2000. He also denied talking to either A.T. or A.D. in the washroom. He denied being in room 114 during the eighth period on the day in question. He denied asking E.J., or having the power to force her, to have oral sex with anyone.

The trial court entered a finding of delinquency. The trial court also denied respondent's motion for a new trial in which he challenged the constitutionality of the indecent solicitation of an adult statute (720 ILCS 5/11-6.5 (West 2000)) (hereafter, the Act). Following a dispositional hearing on June 20, 2001, the trial court sentenced respondent to 30 days in the juvenile detention center and 18 months' probation. As a condition of probation, the trial court ordered 30 hours of community service and participation in the violence prevention program, victim impact program and mandatory counseling. Respondent was also ordered to undergo a sex offender evaluation and to register with the police as a sex offender. Respondent filed a timely notice of appeal on July 13, 2001.

ANALYSIS

Respondent has raised several issues in this appeal, which include constitutional challenges to the Act, which we address seriatim. We shall first address respondent's argument that his finding of delinquency should be reversed because the legislature did not intend for the Act (720 ILCS 5/11-6.5 (West 2000)) to apply to juveniles. See, e.g., Beahringer v. Page, 204 Ill. 2d 363, 370, 789 N.E.2d 1216, 1221 (2003) (court will consider constitutional question only where essential to disposition of a case, i.e., where case cannot be determined on other grounds).

Our standard of review in cases involving statutory interpretation is de novo. In re Justin M.B., 204 Ill. 2d 120, 124, 787 N.E.2d 823, 825 (2003). The best indicator of legislative intent is the language of the statute. In re Justin M.B., 204 Ill. 2d at 124, 787 N.E.2d at 825. If the plain language of a statute is clear and unambiguous, a court must give effect to the statute as written and cannot read exceptions, limitations or conditions into the statute that the legislature did not express. In re J.W., 204 Ill. 2d 50, 62, 787 N.E.2d 747, 755 (2003); In re Justin M.B., 204 Ill. 2d at 124, 787 N.E.2d at 825. There is no need to resort to other aids of construction where the language of the statute is clear and unambiguous. In re B.L.S., 202 Ill. 2d 510, 515, 782 N.E.2d 217, 221 (2002).

The Act provides as follows:

"§11-6.5. Indecent solicitation of an adult.

(a) A person commits indecent solicitation of an adult ...


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