Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. No. 16 OP
72812 Honorable Megan E. Goldish, Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE MASON delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Neville and Justice Hyman
concurred in the judgment and opinion.
1 Respondent Augustin L. appeals the trial court's
issuance of a plenary order of protection in favor of
petitioner, Trinidad C., and her three minor children.
Augustin asserts that his stepdaughter L.C.'s outcry of
sexual abuse that served as a basis for the order of
protection should have been excluded as inadmissible hearsay.
Because we find that the trial court did not abuse its
discretion in declaring L.C. unavailable to testify and that
her outcry of sexual abuse was reliable and corroborated by
other independent evidence, we affirm the plenary order of
3 Trinidad filed a petition for an order of protection on May
3, 2016, on behalf of herself and her three minor children:
L.C., P.L., and R.M. In the petition, Trinidad alleged that
Augustin sexually molested five-year old L.C., which Trinidad
reported to the Department of Children and Family Services
(DCFS) on April 29, 2016, and that all of her children were
confused and affected emotionally. L.C. was Augustin's
stepdaughter at the time of the incident.
4 During the evening of April 28, Trinidad left the home to
do laundry. Augustin stayed with L.C. and P.L. The following
morning, Trinidad woke L.C. to change and clean her before
school because L.C. had not bathed the day before. Trinidad
noticed that L.C.'s vaginal area was very red. Trinidad
asked L.C. if anyone touched her in her private area, and
L.C. covered her face. Trinidad asked her a second time, and
L.C. told her that she was very afraid to tell her the truth.
L.C. then told Trinidad that Augustin touched her in the
vaginal area. L.C. said it happened when Trinidad was at
school and doing laundry. Trinidad asked L.C. why she did not
tell her and L.C. said because Augustin told her that if she
told anyone what happened, he was going to leave the house
and they would be without a father. Trinidad described L.C.
as being very afraid. Trinidad noticed a hole in L.C.'s
leggings "down there" roughly the size of two
fingers. Trinidad finished changing L.C. and took her to
5 Vanessa Salcedo was L.C.'s prekindergarten teacher for
approximately two school years: 2014-15 and 2015-16. When
Trinidad arrived at school with L.C. on April 29, 2016, she
told Salcedo about her conversation with L.C. Salcedo called
DCFS. With Salcedo's help, Trinidad filled out a police
6 Ada Perez-Almuhtaseb, an investigator for DCFS, arrived at
L.C.'s school the same day and interviewed Trinidad at
11:30 a.m., L.C. at 11:50 a.m., and Salcedo at 12:20 p.m.
Perez-Almuhtaseb interviewed each individual separately, and
no one else was present during the interviews.
7 Trinidad stated during the interview with Perez-Almuhtaseb
that she left the house the night before to do laundry and
Augustin stayed with L.C. and P.L. Trinidad also related
discovering the redness in L.C.'s vaginal area and told
Perez-Almuhtaseb about her conversation with her daughter and
reporting the incident to Salcedo.
8 During Perez-Almuhtaseb's interview with L.C., L.C.
accurately differentiated between good and bad touches, and
she also accurately identified her private parts calling her
vagina "cola." When asked if she had ever been
touched on her private parts, L.C. told Perez-Almuhtaseb that
her "dad" touched her on her "cola" when
they were at home. L.C.'s mother was not home at the time
because she was doing laundry, and Augustin was babysitting
her and her brother. She was watching television in her
parents' bedroom, and her brother was sleeping. L.C. told
Perez-Almuhtaseb that when Augustin touched her, he moved his
hand from side to side and that this happened while they were
in her parents' bedroom. Augustin told L.C. not to tell
anyone or else he would have to leave the home. L.C. did not
want that to happen.
9 Finally, Perez-Almuhtaseb interviewed Salcedo as follow-up
to the conversation they had when she reported the incident
10 Later that day at around 6 p.m., Trinidad took L.C. to see
a doctor concerning her vaginal redness. According to
Trinidad, the doctor stated that the redness could have been
hygiene related because L.C. might not be cleaning herself
11 Approximately a week later on May 5, 2016, Rebekah
Stevenson, a forensic interviewer at the Chicago Advocacy
Center, conducted an interview of five-year-old L.C., which
was recorded as a victim sensitive interview (VSI). L.C.
stated that she lived with her mom, sister, and older brother
but not with her "dad, " Augustin, "because he
went on vacation." Before L.C. described the incident
involving Augustin, Stevenson asked L.C. questions ...