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People v. Trotter

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

December 13, 2013

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DONALD R. TROTTER, Defendant-Appellant

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County. No. 09-CF-2439. Honorable Joseph G. McGraw, Judge, Presiding.

SYLLABUS

On defendant's appeal from the imposition of consecutive terms for criminal sexual assault and concurrent terms for child abduction and unlawfully transferring a travel ticket to a minor, the appellate court rejected defendant's contention that he was not proved guilty of child abduction, but the court remanded the cause for resentencing, since the child abduction sentence should have been consecutive to the criminal sexual assault sentences, and the fixed, three-year period of mandatory supervised release on the criminal sexual assault convictions should have been an indeterminate term of three years to natural life on each conviction, and on remand, the trial court would have to determine the appropriate sentences to be imposed consecutively and correct the MSR term.

For appellant: Thomas A. Lilien, Paul Alexander Rogers, State Appellate Defender's Office, Elgin.

For the People: Joseph P. Bruscato, State's Attorney, RockFord; Lawrence M. Bauer, Barry W. Jacobs, State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel.

JUSTICE SCHOSTOK delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Hutchinson and Jorgensen concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Page 544

SCHOSTOK, JUSTICE

Following a jury trial, defendant, Donald R. Trotter, was found guilty of three counts of criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/12-13(a)(4) (West 2008)), four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse (720 ILCS 5/12-16(d) (West 2008)), one count of child abduction (720 ILCS 5/10-5(b)(10) (West 2008)), and one count of unlawfully sending a travel ticket to a minor (720 ILCS 5/10-8.1(b)(1) (West 2008)). The court imposed consecutive 15-year terms of imprisonment on each of the criminal sexual assault offenses, a concurrent 3-year term of imprisonment on the child abduction offense, and a concurrent 1-year term of imprisonment on the offense of unlawfully sending a travel ticket to a minor. (The convictions for aggravated criminal sexual abuse were merged into the criminal sexual assault convictions for sentencing purposes.) Defendant contends on appeal that the State failed to prove that he was guilty of child abduction beyond a reasonable doubt. He also contends that his sentences are excessive. We affirm the convictions but vacate the sentences for criminal sexual assault and child abduction. We remand the cause for the trial court to impose appropriate consecutive sentences for those offenses and to impose an indeterminate term of mandatory supervised release (MSR) of three years to natural life on each of the criminal sexual assault convictions.

I. FACTS

On August 2, 2009, the Rockford police department was informed that a 13-year-old runaway named C.G. had left Rockford without her parents' knowledge or consent and had flown alone from O'Hare Airport in Chicago, Illinois, to Orange County, California. Upon investigation, law enforcement found C.G. with defendant in an apartment in Long Beach, California. Defendant was 54 years old at the time.

C.G. spoke with police and gave a written statement admitting that she and defendant met sometime in November 2008 and began a sexual relationship around May 2009. Defendant had provided her with the plane ticket to California, had driven her to O'Hare Airport, had given her a key to the apartment in Long Beach, which he had rented, and had arranged for her transportation by car service

Page 545

from the Orange County airport to the apartment.

Defendant was arrested and returned to Rockford, where he was charged by indictment with criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, child abduction, and sending a public conveyance travel ticket to a minor for an unlawful purpose. All of the sex offenses were based on defendant's alleged conduct with C.G. between June 1 and August 1, 2009. The three criminal sexual assault counts alleged that defendant had sex with C.G. while he held a " position of trust, authority, or supervision" in relation to her. The offense of unlawfully sending a travel ticket to C.G. was alleged to have occurred in July 2009. The child abduction count alleged that defendant had committed that offense on August 1, 2009, when he " lured" C.G. into his motor vehicle for other than a lawful purpose.

A superseding indictment was filed on February 9, 2011, in which the criminal sexual assault counts specified that defendant held a " position of trust, authority, or supervision" with respect to C.G. in that he was acting as her " caretaker or chaperone" when the sexual conduct allegedly occurred.

A jury trial began on August 22, 2011. More than two dozen witnesses testified at trial, all of them for the State, including C.G. The following evidence was introduced at the trial.

C.G. had initially met defendant at a restaurant in November 2008, where defendant was handing out flyers to promote an upcoming community youth theater production of Beauty and the Beast . C.G. told defendant that she was planning to audition for a part, and she eventually was cast in a few minor roles.

Rehearsals were held from late November 2008 to February 2009, when the play was performed. Defendant was responsible for running the sound equipment for the play, and C.G. would see him at rehearsals. Sometime during the rehearsal period, C.G. called or texted defendant to ask him something about the play. At that time, C.G. thought of defendant as " just an adult that was working on the show." That changed, and they began exchanging text messages on a more regular basis. C.G. described the nature of the messages as " just everyday conversation, like 'hi, how are you?' "

Defendant was married and had a daughter named S.T., who was around the same age as C.G. and was among C.G.'s friends. S.T. also was involved in the play. Sometime between March and May 2009, S.T. invited C.G. to spend the night at her home, where she lived with her mother and defendant.

Prior to the sleepover, defendant and S.T. picked up C.G. at her home, and defendant spoke to C.G.'s parents on that occasion. C.G.'s mother had previously met defendant through C.G. because of C.G.'s involvement in the theater group. C.G.'s mother thought that C.G. would be supervised properly during the sleepover since adults would be present.

Also during the spring of 2009, C.G. became involved in Bugsy Malone, another play produced by the theater group. C.G. assisted defendant in running the sound equipment. While that play was in rehearsal, C.G. and defendant continued to exchange text messages on a frequent basis, sometimes more than once per day. By this time, the texts were not what C.G. described as " everyday things" but involved " past relationships." Defendant sometimes would give C.G. rides to or from the rehearsals. Defendant also would pick up C.G. at her school and take her to rehearsals.

Page 546

As rehearsals for Bugsy Malone continued, the nature and tone of the texts between C.G. and defendant evolved further. According to C.G., she and defendant formed " more of a relationship." One day defendant sent C.G. a text saying: " I think I am in love with you," to which C.G. responded: " [B]ut it's nothing sexual, right?" Defendant replied, " Yes." C.G. and defendant tried to define their relationship and settled on " BFDF," which stood for " best friend, daughter father." Defendant had suggested that definition. C.G. described the relationship as being more of " a boyfriend/girlfriend type."

C.G. believed that defendant was someone she could trust. She and defendant would confide in each other. She talked to him about the problems she experienced with her family and he told her that he had gone through similar experiences when he was her age. Defendant confided that his real name was " Daniel Black," that he worked for the National Security Administration, not for Siemens Company, and ...


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