United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
HAROLD C. GROEL, Petitioner,
DOUG SIMMONS, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
R. HERNDON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
June, 2009, a jury in Tazewell County, Illinois, convicted
Harold C. Groel of one count of criminal sexual assault in
violation of 720 ILCS 5/12-13(a)(4). He was sentenced to
fifteen years imprisonment.
version of the statute in effect at that time provided that a
person commits the offense of criminal sexual assault if he:
commits an act of sexual penetration with a victim who was at
least 13 years of age but under 18 years of age when the act
was committed and the accused was 17 years of age or over and
held a position of trust, authority or supervision in
relation to the victim.
before the Court is Groel's petition for habeas relief
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2254 (Doc. 1).
for Habeas Relief
was still pursuing state remedies when the filed his habeas
petition. On September 13, 2016, the Court entered an order
declining to stay the petition until state remedies were
exhausted. See, Doc. 50. In that Order, the Court explained
that the petition set forth separate, but related, grounds
for habeas relief:
1. The state court erred “in finding the defendant
guilty, without requiring further analysis or more definitive
definition of the positions [of] authority, supervision, and
trust and how it applies to the defendant.” (Doc. 1, p.
2. The failure to specify which of the three terms allegedly
applied to him resulted in “having the defendant prove
that he did not fall into any of the positions and that to
have all three positions relieves the State of it's [sic]
burden of proof denying him due process of law.” (Doc.
1, p. 10).
Court will refer to the first ground as the “definition
claim” and to the second ground as the “notice
petition also argued that there was not sufficient evidence
that petitioner occupied a position of trust, authority or
supervision in relation to the victim. See, Doc. 1, pp. 7-8.
However, in his reply to the original answer, petitioner
definitively stated that he is not challenging the
sufficiency of the evidence. See, Doc. 21, p. 1, ¶2.
Facts and Procedural History
summary of the facts is derived from the decision of the
Illinois Appellate Court, Third District, denying
petitioner's direct appeal. A copy of the decision is
located at Doc. 21, Ex. 2, pp. 1-11. State court determinations
of facts “shall be presumed to be correct” and
can only be rebutted by “clear and convincing
evidence.” 28 U.S.C. §2254(e)(1). Petitioner has
not offered any evidence to rebut the state court's
determinations of fact.
was initially charged with five counts of criminal sexual
assault against three minor female victims (T.A., S.N. and
A.P.), and one count of endangering the life or health of a
child (S.N.) by providing alcoholic beverages and drugs.
After S.N. failed to appear at trial as scheduled, the three
counts involving her were dismissed. Defendant was convicted
only on one count involving T.A. Ex. 2, pp. 2, 4.
S.N. and A.P. were foster children in the custody of
petitioner's mother-in-law, Judy Morris. Petitioner's
wife, Cathy Groel, sometimes “babysat” one or
more of her mother's foster children. T.A. was twenty-one
years old at the time of the trial. She testified that she
entered the foster care system at the age of eight, and was
placed with Judy Morris when she was thirteen years old. She
testified that Judy Morris would leave her with Cathy Groel
at the home Cathy Groel shared with petitioner while Judy
Morris went to play bingo. T.A. testified that, when she was
fourteen years old, petitioner had vaginal intercourse with
her at his home. She said that petitioner had vaginal
intercourse with her on other occasions as well, and that he
had stopped having intercourse with her when another foster
child, S.N., moved into Judy Morris' home. Ex. 2, pp.
to the state court, T.A. testified that, “in the
beginning, her relationship with defendant was similar to
spending time with family. She explained, ‘we were
family, ' and mentioned ‘we' went out to eat
and ‘watched movies as a family, ' and ‘he
was [a] nice regular guy, cool.'” She spent the
night at the Groels' home and sometimes babysat for the
Groels' children, whom she said she loved. Ex. 2, p. 10.
direct appeal, Groel raised the following issues:
1. He was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
2. The judge erred in allowing the state to introduce
other-conduct evidence to show his propensity to commit this
type of offense.
3. Admission of his prior conviction for endangering the life
or health of ...