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In re T.J.D.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

November 16, 2017

In re T.J.D., a Minor
v.
T.J.D., Respondent-Appellant. The People of the State of Illinois, Petitioner-Appellee,

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Williamson County. No. 10-JD-26 Honorable Jeffrey A. Goffinet, Judge, presiding.

          Attorney for Appellant Andrew T. Flynn, Lawler Brown Law Firm.

          Attorneys for Appellee Hon. Brandon Zanotti, State's Attorney, David J. Robinson, Acting Deputy Director, Patrick D. Daly, Sharon Shanahan, Staff Attorneys, Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor.

          JUSTICE GOLDENHERSH delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Barberis and Overstreet concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          GOLDENHERSH JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Respondent, T.J.D., filed a petition to terminate his sexual offender registration pursuant to section 3-5 of the Sex Offender Registration Act (Act). 730 ILCS 150/3-5 (West 2014). The trial court denied the petition, and respondent appealed. On appeal, respondent argues that the trial court's interpretation of section 3-5(d) of the Act-which permits a court to terminate the sex offender registration of an adjudicated juvenile delinquent if he shows, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he poses no risk to the community-creates an impossible burden and is contrary to the legislature's intent. 730 ILCS 150/3-5(d) (West 2014). Respondent argues the trial court's decision should be reversed and remanded with directions regarding the proper interpretation of this statute. Alternatively, respondent alleges the court's decision denying his petition was against the manifest weight of the evidence. We affirm.

         ¶ 2 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 Petitioner, the State of Illinois (State), filed a petition for adjudication of wardship on August 13, 2010, in the circuit court of Williamson County. The petition alleged that respondent, then a minor, committed the offenses of aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. 720 ILCS 5/12-14(b)(i), 12-16(c)(2)(i) (West 2008). Specifically, the petition alleged that between the dates of January and June 2010, respondent committed aggravated criminal sexual assault when he placed his penis in the mouth of A.L., then under eight years of age. 720 ILCS 5/12-14(b)(i) (West 2008). The petition further alleged that between the dates of January and June 2010, respondent committed aggravated criminal sexual abuse when he touched the vagina of E.B., then under eight years of age, for the purpose of sexual gratification. 720 ILCS 5/12-16(c)(2)(i) (West 2008).

         ¶ 4 Respondent entered an admission to both allegations on February 15, 2011, and was subsequently adjudicated a juvenile delinquent on two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and assault. 720 ILCS 5/12-14(b)(i), 12-16(c)(2)(i) (West 2008). The court entered an adjudication and disposition order on April 14, 2011, which required respondent to register as a juvenile sex offender under the Act. 730 ILCS 150/3-5 (West 2008). Respondent was also placed on probation for five years and home electronic monitoring for 12 months. Respondent registered as a juvenile sex offender on April 15, 2011.

         ¶ 5 Respondent was discharged from probation on April 29, 2016. On August 19, 2016, respondent filed a petition to terminate his sexual offender registration pursuant to section 3-5(d) of the Act. 730 ILCS 150/3-5(d) (West 2014). Under this section of the Act, a court may terminate the registration of an adjudicated juvenile delinquent if he or she shows, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he or she "poses no risk to the community." 730 ILCS 150/3-5(d) (West 2014). In support of respondent's contention that he posed no risk to the community, respondent asserted that he had completed a current risk assessment, which recommends he be removed from registration; he successfully completed individual sex offender treatment; his sexual offender history and recommendations from counselors indicate he is a low risk and requires no supervision or restrictions; he has resided and attended school in the community without any incidents; and the continued requirement of registration presents an undue burden.

         ¶ 6 Attached to respondent's petition was a psychosexual risk assessment and evaluation prepared by Linda Stover, a licensed sex offender evaluator. Based on her review of records, clinical interviews, written assessments, and stable and acute risk factors, Stover concluded that respondent should be considered a low risk to the community. Stover opined that respondent had demonstrated he can live an offense-free life and should be given the opportunity to continue his life without having to register as a sex offender. Stover further stated that respondent had completed everything the court asked of him, he assumes full responsibility for his actions, and he "is very remorseful for all of it." Stover strongly recommended that respondent be removed from the registration law.

         ¶ 7 In response to respondent's petition, the State filed a petition to allow a risk assessment/evaluation on August 30, 2016, requesting that it be allowed to procure its own risk assessment of respondent performed by an evaluator licensed under the Act. The petition was granted over respondent's objection.

         ¶ 8 A hearing on respondent's petition to terminate his sexual offender registration was held on December 22, 2016. Two psychosexual risk assessment evaluations were presented to the court: (1) the evaluation prepared by Stover, which we discuss above, and (2) an evaluation prepared by Donya Adkerson, a licensed sex offender evaluator and licensed sex offender treatment provider, which was requested by the Williamson County State's Attorney's Office. Adkerson's evaluation stated that respondent had participated in both residential and outpatient sex offense specific treatment and that he successfully completed the treatment with highly positive reports from his treatment providers. Adkerson opined that respondent had demonstrated a number of strengths in dynamic risk areas and had shown patterns of behavior associated with decreased risk for sexual offense recidivism. Adkerson found the risk of respondent's recidivism to be very low. Regarding registry removal requirements in Illinois, Adkerson opined:

"Illinois requires a finding that the individual pose no risk to the community to be appropriate for registry removal, which presumably would be a risk level equivalent to community members at large. A finding of no risk is not possible, as some risk for sexual offense exists even among the general population for whom no prior sexual offenses have been identified."

         In sum, Adkerson recommended that respondent be released from his sex offender registry requirements because there "is every reason to believe" respondent would not reoffend, and because remaining on the sex offender registry creates risk of destabilization in housing and employment which in turn undermines best functioning.

         ¶ 9 The court also heard testimony from Misty Lucas, respondent's counselor at the United Methodist Children's Home located in Mount Vernon. Lucas is a licensed counselor. She testified that she worked with respondent from August 2010 until January 2013 on a weekly basis for juvenile sex offender treatment and has had contact with respondent approximately two times per year since that time. Based on her observations of respondent over the past several years, Lucas testified that she had seen great growth in respondent and that respondent had shown remorse and empathy for his victims. Lucas testified she did not consider respondent to be a risk to the community.

         ¶ 10 The court additionally considered the testimony of respondent and respondent's father, K.D., as well as victim statements. Respondent and K.D. testified that respondent had matured from the time the incidents took place, and opined that respondent posed no risk to the community. The victim statements, read by the mothers of the victims, recounted the appalling encounters between ...


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