Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County. No. 98-JD-166 Honorable K. Patrick Yarbrough Judge, Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Schostok
JUSTICE SCHOSTOK delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Zenoff and Birkett concurred in the judgment and opinion.
On October 19, 1999, the respondent, Rufus T., was adjudicated a juvenile delinquent based on an admission of attempted aggravated criminal sexual assault of a child under the age of nine (720 ILCS 5/8-4(a), 12-14(b)(i) (West 1998)). The respondent was required to register as a sex offender. On July 2, 2008, the respondent filed a pro se petition for removal from the sex offender registry. On August 31, 2009, the trial court denied the petition. The respondent appeals from that order. We affirm.
On September 27, 1999, the State filed a delinquency petition charging the respondent, then age 15, with attempted aggravated criminal sexual assault of a child under the age of 9. On October 19, 1999, the respondent admitted the charge. On that same day, the respondent was adjudicated delinquent, made a ward of the court, and committed to the Juvenile Department of Corrections (JDOC). The respondent was required to register as a sex offender pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration Act (Act) (730 ILCS 150/1 et seq. (West 2000)). See Pub. Act 91-48 (eff. July 1, 1999) (amending 730 ILCS 150/2 (West 1998)); see also In re J.W., 204 Ill. 2d 50, 66 (2003) (holding that "juvenile sex offenders" fall within the purview of section 3 of the Act and are required to register).
On July 2, 2008, the respondent filed a pro se petition, pursuant to section 3-5(c) of the Act (730 ILCS 150/3-5(c) (West 2008)), to terminate the term during which he must register as a sex offender. After finding the respondent indigent, the trial court appointed a public defender to represent the respondent. On October 6, 2008, defense counsel requested 10 days to file an updated petition. She also told the court that she believed section 3-5(e) of the Act (730 ILCS 150/3-5(e) (West 2008)) required a current risk assessment to be provided to the trial court and that she would consult her supervisors to determine if there were any financial provisions available to the respondent for such an assessment.
On December 22, 2008, the respondent filed an amended petition alleging that he was 13 years old at the time of the offense, he had been registered as a sex offender for more than five years, had completed sex offender counseling, had no other history of delinquency, and had demonstrated that he was a responsible member of society. For those reasons, the respondent alleged that he posed no threat to the community and requested that he be removed from the sex offender registration list.
On January 5, 2009, defense counsel again addressed the risk assessment. Specifically, defense counsel informed the trial court that, due to budget constraints, the public defender's office could not pay for a risk assessment. Additionally, she had been informed by the chief judge of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit that neither the court nor the county would pay for such an evaluation.
Defense counsel opined that the statute did not have provisions for paying for a risk assessment for an indigent. The trial court granted defense counsel's request for additional time for the respondent and his mother to decide whether they could pay for a risk assessment.
On August 19, 2009, a hearing was held on the petition. The respondent did not present a risk assessment. The respondent testified that he was 25 years old and lived with his mother in Rockford. He acknowledged that, when he was 14 or 15 years old, he pled guilty to one count of aggravated criminal sexual assault and was declared a delinquent minor. The victim was a family friend who was about three years old. He was 15 years old when he was committed to the JDOC. While incarcerated, he completed sex offender treatment programs provided by juvenile facilities in Harrisburg and Kewanee. He participated in the treatment programs for 21/2 years.
The respondent further testified that he was released on parole when he was 18 years old. However, he violated his probation by missing one or two days of school and was returned to the JDOC. While there, he completed another sex offender program and an anger management program. He was released sometime thereafter but again returned to the JDOC due to another parole violation. He was finally released from the JDOC in October 2004, when he turned 21 years old, and went to live with his mother. Prior to his final release, he was required to register as a sex offender. He had one deceased child and a daughter who was 10 months old. He had been divorced for about one month. He was trying to go back to school to work on a GED. He believed that his status as a sex offender was impeding his ability to find a job. He had to support his daughter and believed that his chances of finding employment would improve if he were removed from the sex offender registry.
On cross-examination, the respondent acknowledged that he had mental health issues and had sought treatment in 2008. He was taking medication for depression and to help him sleep. He could not afford to seek therapy or counseling. He acknowledged that no one had ever told him he was being refused employment because he was a registered sex offender. The respondent testified that a friend of his had checked the sex offender registry and found the respondent's name on it. The respondent acknowledged that he had been convicted of resisting arrest in 2003, received conditional discharge for possession of cannabis in 2004, and received a ticket for possession of alcohol in a public place in 2006.
The respondent's mother, Joann T., testified that the respondent lived with her and that he did not cause any problems. She believed the sex offender registration was impeding the respondent's ability to get an education and find a job. On cross-examination, she acknowledged that she was just assuming that the sex offender registration was causing the respondent problems. She acknowledged that the juvenile sex offender registry was confidential but stated that people have ways of "finding out these things." She described one of the respondent's arrests where the arresting officer stated very loudly in front of neighbors that the respondent was a juvenile sex offender.
Assistant State's Attorney Angela Wartowski testified for the State that she checked the statewide and nationwide sex offender registry websites and that the respondent's name did not appear on those sites. Rockford police officer Di Ann Krigbaum testified that on September 9, 1999, she interviewed the respondent's three-year-old victim. Using anatomically correct dolls, the victim indicated that the respondent had put his penis into her ...