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The People of the State of Illinois, Appellant v. Thomas S. Rinehart

January 20, 2012

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT,
v.
THOMAS S. RINEHART, APPELLEE.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Theis

JUSTICE THEIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Garman, Karmeier, and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 In 2007, defendant Thomas Rinehart was convicted of criminal sexual assault and sentenced to 28 years' imprisonment. The defendant appealed, and the appellate court affirmed his conviction and sentence, but remanded with instructions for the circuit court of Coles County to select a term of mandatory supervised release (MSR) within the range of three years to natural life contained in section 5-8-1(d)(4) of the Unified Code of Corrections (730 ILCS 5/5-8-1(d)(4) (West 2006)). 406 Ill. App. 3d 272. The State appealed.

¶ 2 The central issue before us, then, is whether the appellate court erred in holding that section 5-8-1(d)(4) requires the trial court to set a determinate MSR term within the statutory range. In his request for cross-relief, the defendant raises the issue of whether the trial court erred in allowing the State to pose various questions during voir dire. We affirm the defendant's conviction and sentence, and vacate the appellate court's order on MSR.

¶ 3 BACKGROUND

¶ 4 In 2006, the defendant lived with his girlfriend, Hope Scott, and her children, one of which was A.A., a then-17-year-old girl with developmental disabilities. Sometime in August of that year, the defendant borrowed Scott's minivan to help her friends move to Mattoon from Charleston, Illinois. A.A. rode alone with the defendant on one trip. Several weeks later, she told Scott's friends' daughters that the defendant had forced her to have sex in the back of the minivan on the day they moved. Subsequently, the police arrested the defendant, and charged him with criminal sexual assault.

¶ 5 The case proceeded to a jury trial. During jury selection, the parties were permitted to question venire members pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 431 (Ill. S. Ct. R. 431 (eff. May 1, 2007)). The State asked 5 of the 25 potential jurors who were questioned why a sexual assault victim might delay in reporting an incident. The exchanges between the prosecutor and the jurors were short.

"MS. KIGER [Assistant State's Attorney]: Can you think of some reasons why a sexual assault victim might not immediately report an incident?

MR. WHITE [Prospective Juror]: Why they would not report an incident?

MS. KIGER: Right away.

MR. WHITE: The victim?

MS. KIGER: Correct.

MR. WHITE: Well, they probably may say it really didn't happen, and then the falling out with the parents. Maybe there was a relationship, you know, age difference relationship. Then the parents found out about it, convinced, you know. Children are children.

MS. KIGER: Can you think of a reason why a victim who had had some things happen to them might not immediately go to an adult or report it?

MR. WHITE: Scared.

MS. KIGER: Can you think of some reasons why a victim of sexual assault might not immediately report it to someone?

MS. FULLER [Prospective Juror]: Fear, shame.

MS. KIGER: Can you think of a reason why a victim might delay in reporting being raped or being a ...


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