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The People of the State of Illinois v. Julianna M. Bingham

April 2, 2013


Appeal from Circuit Court of Macon County No. 09CF1508 Honorable Timothy J. Steadman, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Knecht

Carla Bender 4th District Appellate Court, IL

JUSTICE KNECHT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Appleton and Pope concurred in the judgment and opinion.


¶ 1 In January 2011, the State filed a petition to have defendant, Julianna Bingham (born March 30, 1992), declared a sexually dangerous person under the Sexually Dangerous Persons Act (SDPA) (725 ILCS 205/1.01 to 12 (West 2010)). The trial court found defendant to be a sexually dangerous person beyond a reasonable doubt and appointed the Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections (Department) as her guardian. The court ordered defendant to remain committed to the Department "until or unless [she] is recovered and released."

¶ 2 Defendant appeals, arguing the State did not prove she is a sexually dangerous person beyond a reasonable doubt. We agree with defendant and reverse the trial court's judgment.


¶ 4 In September 2009, the State charged defendant with aggravated battery, a Class 3 felony (720 ILCS 5/12-4(b)(3), (e)(1) (West 2008)), alleging defendant knowingly caused bodily harm to Michael Mose, her high school principal, while located on school grounds. In September 2010, defendant pleaded guilty, and the trial court sentenced her to 24 months' probation.

¶ 5 In January 2011, the State filed a petition to revoke defendant's probation, alleging defendant violated her probation when she committed a battery, a Class A misdemeanor (720 ILCS 5/12-3(a)(2), (b) (West 2010)) against Katie Cafin (born in 1994), by placing her hand on Cafin's buttocks.

¶ 6 In July 2011, the State filed a petition to have defendant declared a sexually dangerous person. At the time the State filed its petition, defendant was 19 years old. As the basis for its petition, the State alleged defendant engaged in the following sexual acts: (1) in 2005, she touched the buttocks of her female cousin and her male cousin's girlfriend; (2) in April and September 2006, she fondled the buttocks of two of her female schoolmates; (3) in March to October 2006, while staying in a group home, she slapped a female peer on her buttocks and poked her breasts; (4) in October 2006, during a sex-offender-specific evaluation, she flirted with her female psychiatrist and asked her if she was a lesbian; (5) in March 2007, while in another group home, she pulled the shower curtain open on a peer while she was showering and "inappropriately" grabbed her; (6) in January 2010, she grabbed her teacher by the neck, pushed her into a chair, kissed her, and grabbed her breast; and (7) in January 2011, she grabbed Cafin's buttocks.

¶ 7 In April 2012, the trial court held a hearing on the State's petition. Dr. Lawrence Jeckel testified as an expert in forensic psychiatry. Jeckel explained, in court-ordered evaluations on potentially sexually dangerous persons, he generally gathers police reports, the psychiatric history, and the family history of a patient and performs a clinical evaluation of the patient to make a diagnosis and "draw conclusions that will guide the [trial] [c]court."

¶ 8 Jeckel testified he interviewed defendant for one hour in August 2011. To Jeckel's knowledge, defendant has never had sex-offender-specific treatment but has had "much psychiatric treatment." Respondent's parents had tried medications, mood stabilizers, and anti-psychotics. Jeckel's evaluation revealed defendant's "affects to be somewhat diminished" but defendant was not "acutely psychotic" or "acutely paranoid." Jeckel reviewed an evaluation done in North Carolina, which concluded defendant "defiantly lacked victim empathy" and was not suffering from a mental illness but she had antisocial personality disorder. Jeckel diagnosed defendant as having "mixed personality disorder" with "many borderline features of borderline personality disorder[] and *** some antisocial qualities." Jeckel testified defendant "cannot process personal responsibility" and possesses an "intense sexualized idealization."

¶ 9 A review of defendant's mental history revealed defendant was "overly aggressive" and "uncomfortable with being a girl." Over time, defendant became "more aggressive, more unpredictable, more agitated, [and] more labile." Her recent mental history reflected "irrational outbursts of anger."

¶ 10 In regard to defendant's educational history, Jeckel testified defendant "ha[d] many learning deficits[,] [h]er reading ability [was] a third grade level[,] [and her] [w]riting was poor." Defendant's intelligence score was between 78 to 80, which Jeckel did not believe "quite qualifie[d] as mental retardation" but which indicated defendant had "some limited intellectual ability."

¶ 11 On cross-examination, Jeckel explained his determination defendant espoused a criminal sexual propensity was based on "a long pattern of [defendant] *** aggressively asserting her lesbian identity." Jeckel admitted this pattern of behavior was made known to him through reports supplied by other people, not through his own evaluation of defendant. Jeckel testified about two of the incidents made known to him through outside reports.

¶ 12 Jeckel first testified about the incident that led to the State filing the petition to have defendant committed as sexually dangerous. Defendant was staying at the Grace House "because she had no where else to stay." Cafin was stacking cans in the kitchen cabinet when defendant "came up from behind her and placed one of her hands on [Cafin's] buttocks." Cafin also reported defendant had looked down her shirt. Defendant told Jeckel she did not touch Cafin's buttocks or look down her shirt, and Cafin "didn't like her because she thought [defendant] was a lesbian."

¶ 13 Jeckel next testified about an incident involving defendant and her teacher, Ashley Guntol. On January 15, 2010, the following events took place:

"[Defendant] stood up from her chair, walked over to the other side of the desk, grabbed the collar area *** of the teacher, forced her to sit back down, placed her hand on the collar neck area, and pressed her lips against the teacher, and tried to force her tongue into her mouth, *** and also reached down with her hand inside the teacher's shirt."

Jeckel testified defendant told him Guntol asked defendant to "come to the desk in front of her so she could see her pretty face." Defendant told Jeckel "she liked [Guntol]" and could not understand why the police were called." Later, on cross-examination, Jeckel testified defendant "stated [her behavior] was wrong, but did not want to talk about it."

¶ 14 Jeckel further testified about (1) the 2009 incident involving defendant in which she was charged with aggravated battery for biting and spitting on her high school principal, Mose, and (2) an incident in 2006 in which defendant attacked her father with a knife. Neither incident was sexual in nature.

¶ 15 Jeckel found defendant met the criteria for a sexually dangerous person. Jeckel opined defendant's mental disorder "predisposed her to engage in recurrent improper sexual and aggressive activity with other women" and caused a "criminal propensity to the commission of sex offenses." Without "some form of treatment," defendant would engage in sexually dangerous behavior in the future.

ΒΆ 16 Dr. Terry Killian testified he interviewed defendant in October 2011 for approximately 2 1/2 hours. In evaluating defendant, Killian used police reports, information provided by defendant's parents, past medical and mental evaluations, and his personal interview with defendant. Killian diagnosed defendant with attention deficit ...

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