from Circuit Court of Champaign County No. 17JD23 Honorable
Thomas J. Difanis, Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE KNECHT delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion.Presiding Justice Turner and Justice Harris concurred
in the judgment and opinion.
1 Respondent, T.Z. (born January 5, 2002), appeals from the
trial court's orders adjudicating him delinquent and
committing him to the custody of the Illinois Department of
Juvenile Justice (DOJJ). On appeal, respondent argues (1) his
right to confrontation was violated at his adjudicatory
hearing by the manner in which the trial court permitted a
child witness to testify, (2) his trial counsel operated
under a conflict of interest at his dispositional hearing
when she advocated for his best interests, and (3) he was
improperly assessed a $50 court finance fee. We reverse and
remand for a new adjudicatory hearing and, if necessary, a
new dispositional hearing.
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 A. Petition for Adjudication of Delinquency and Wardship
4 On February 15, 2017, the State filed a petition for
adjudication of delinquency and wardship, alleging respondent
committed the offenses of aggravated criminal sexual assault
(720 ILCS 5/11-1.30(b)(i) (West 2016) (count I)) and criminal
sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/11- 1.20(a)(3) (West 2016) (count
II)) against T.W., his seven-year-old nephew. In both counts,
the State alleged respondent, "[o]n or about June[ ]
2016 and January 1, 2017, *** placed his penis in
5 B. Respondent's Motion for the Appointment of a
Guardian Ad Litem
6 On February 21, 2017, respondent filed a motion for the
appointment of a guardian ad litem (GAL). Following
a March 3, 2017, hearing, the trial court granted
respondent's motion and appointed a GAL.
7 C. Adjudicatory Hearing
8 On March 30, 2017, the trial court held an adjudicatory
hearing. The State elicited testimony from T.W.'s mother,
Jessica Y., and T.W. Respondent testified on his own behalf.
No other evidence was presented.
9 Jessica Y. testified that during the period from June 2016
through January 1, 2017, T.W. stayed the night at her
mother's home approximately once every two weeks, where
respondent, Jessica Y.'s younger brother, also resided.
Jessica Y. testified that on an occasion in the fall of 2016,
T.W. stayed the night at her neighbor's home, where
respondent was also staying the night. According to Jessica
Y., sometime in the fall of 2016, T.W. reported respondent
"did adult things." However, Jessica Y. testified,
T.W. "didn't say whether [respondent] touched him or
anything." Jessica Y. spoke with respondent, who
"denied it." She then told family members she did
not want T.W. and respondent alone together. Jessica Y.
continued to allow T.W. to stay the night at her mother's
home after her conversation with T.W.
10 Seven-year-old T.W. "promise[d]" to tell the
truth. He testified in open court as to his age, schooling,
living situation, and familial relationship with respondent.
T.W. also identified respondent as being present in the
courtroom. T.W. testified he recalled an occasion when he
stayed the night at his neighbor's home, where respondent
was also staying the night. The following examination then
"[STATE]: Did something happen with you and
[STATE]: Can you tell the judge what happened?
THE COURT: Go ahead
([T.W.] whispers to [t]he [c]ourt.)
THE COURT: Do you want me to say what you just said or can
you say it?
THE COURT: You want me to say that he touched you in your
privates? Is that what you told me?
THE COURT: Okay.
[STATE]: Were there other times when you slept over at