from the Circuit Court of the 21st Judicial Circuit, Kankakee
County, Illinois, Circuit No. 00-JD-80, Honorable Adrienne W.
Albrecht, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE WRIGHT delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Carter and Justice Schmidt
concurred in the judgment and opinion.
1 Respondent, B.C., appeals from the circuit court's
denial of his petition to terminate registration as a sex
offender. B.C. argues that (1) the circuit court improperly
interpreted the applicable statute and (2) the court's
decision was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence.
We reverse and remand with directions for the court to grant
B.C.'s petition to terminate sex offender registration.
3 On May 3, 2000, the State filed a juvenile delinquency
petition that alleged B.C. was delinquent in that he had
committed four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse
(720 ILCS 5/12-16(c)(2)(i) (West 2000)). Counts I and III
alleged that B.C., who was under 17 years of age at the time
of the offenses, had placed his penis in the mouths of
victims T.C. and J.M., who were under 9 years of age, for the
purpose of sexual gratification. Counts II and IV alleged
that B.C., who was under 17 years of age at the time of the
offenses, had placed his penis in the anuses of victims T.C.
and J.M, who were under 9 years of age, for the purpose of
4 In May 2000, Dr. Mary Belford evaluated B.C. In her report,
Belford said B.C. had no history of abuse and no evidence of
depression, psychosis, or any preexisting psychiatric issues.
Belford said B.C.'s psychological testing was
"basically normal except for moderately low functioning
(age-equivalent of ten years old) in communication domains
5 In July 2000, therapist Judith McCormick prepared a second
evaluation. In her report, McCormick said B.C. had a low to
moderate risk for sexual reoffense. McCormick based her low
risk opinion on the following factors: (1) B.C. was willing
to explore his offenses in a nondefensive manner, (2) B.C.
acknowledged and understood the negative impact of the
offenses on the victims, (3) B.C. was willing to accept
responsibility for committing the offenses, (4) B.C. felt
guilty and remorseful because of the negative impact on the
victims, (5) B.C.'s parents acknowledged and understood
the negative impact of the offenses on the victims, (6)
B.C.'s parents held B.C. responsible for the offense
without externalizing the blame, (7) B.C. had no history of
behavior disorder involving physical aggression, (8) B.C. had
a functional family unit, (9) B.C.'s family was
supportive of treatment and willing to be involved in
therapy, and (10) B.C. had no history of behavior or academic
problems at school. McCormick cited the following factors in
support of her moderate risk opinion: (1) B.C. had two or
more documented offenses, (2) B.C. did not understand the
exploitive nature of the offenses, (3) B.C. had negative
self-esteem, and (4) B.C.'s family was unable to identify
problems within the family unit other than B.C.'s deviant
6 On August 17, 2000, B.C. admitted to counts I and III of
the State's petition. The court adjudicated B.C.
delinquent and granted the State's motion to dismiss
counts II and IV. The court placed B.C. on reporting
probation until August 17, 2005.
7 In October 2001, Dr. Antoinette Kavanaugh evaluated B.C. In
her report, Kavanaugh said B.C. appeared to be making
positive strides in therapy, and he had improved his social
skills. Kavanaugh noted that assessing B.C.'s risk of
reoffense was "not an easy task" because recidivism
rates for adolescent sex offenders were low compared to adult
sex offenders and a 100% accurate empirical risk assessment
did not exist. Nevertheless, Kavanaugh cited the following
factors that may reduce B.C.'s likelihood of reoffense:
(1) B.C. had no history of juvenile delinquency before the
adjudicated offense, (2) since B.C.'s adjudication, he
has not had any new involvement with the justice system, (3)
B.C. consistently engaged in and demonstrated progress in
treatment, (4) B.C. admitted that he committed the offenses,
(5) B.C.'s level of denial had decreased, (6) B.C.'s
exposure to sexually explicit material had decreased, (7)
B.C. did not have a history of being victimized, (8) B.C. did
not have a deviant sexual arousal pattern, (9) B.C.'s
family was willing to engage in treatment, (10) B.C. was
involved in a functional family system, (11) B.C. did not
have a history of academic or behavioral problems, (12) B.C.
had increased his involvement with peers his age and
decreased his involvement with younger peers, (13) B.C. had
increased parental and adult supervision, (14) B.C.'s
empathy for the victims had increased but was still
incomplete, (15) B.C. did not have a history of drug or
alcohol use, (16) B.C.'s social skills were increasing,
and (17) B.C. was not suffering from a significant emotional
or psychological problem. Kavanaugh also cited four factors
that may increase B.C.'s likelihood of reoffense: (1)
B.C. and his parents continued to display cognitive
distortions related to the offense; (2) B.C. and his family
did not have sufficient knowledge of the environmental,
interpersonal, and family factors that may have contributed
to the abuse; (3) B.C. and his family have yet to develop an
appropriate level of victim empathy; and (4) B.C. and his
family failed to completely understand the exploitative
nature of the offenses.
8 On August 25, 2005, B.C. was discharged from probation. The
discharge order noted that B.C. had successfully completed
his term of probation.
9 On April 1, 2016, B.C. filed a petition for termination of
sex offender registration. 730 ILCS 150/3-5(c) (West 2016).
The petition alleged that (1) B.C. became statutorily
eligible to petition for termination on September 1, 2005,
(2) B.C. had successfully completed a sex offender treatment
program, and (3) according to licensed professional evaluator
Pamela Munson, B.C. was a "low risk to re-offend, "
had a plan for accountability, and was aware of his triggers.
10 At the hearing on the petition, B.C. testified that he
committed the charged offenses when he was 14 years old.
Since his convictions, B.C. had graduated from high school
and attended 1½ years of community college. After high
school, B.C. worked full time at several Taco Bell locations.
B.C. had also worked as a manager at a Buffalo Wild Wings
restaurant and was then the general manager of the Taco Bell
in Crest Hill.
11 When B.C. pled guilty, he was subject to a 10-year term of
sex offender registration. After his plea, the legislature
changed the applicable registration term to natural life.
B.C. Had registered as required since the date of his
conviction. B.C. had not been arrested or convicted of any
other crimes, and he had not violated his probation. B.C. had
also voluntarily completed a sex offender treatment program
through the office of Dr. James Simone and Associates. At the
conclusion of the program, Munson prepared a risk assessment.
12 The State called Tammy M., the mother of J.M., to read a
victim impact statement. In her statement, Tammy detailed
J.M.'s continuing anxiety and emotional distress caused
by B.C.'s actions. Tammy acknowledged that people can
change, but advocated that B.C. remain on the sex offender
registry for as long as possible because of the harm B.C. had
caused to J.M.
13 At the conclusion of Tammy's testimony, counsel for
B.C. proffered that, if called to testify, Munson would state
B.C. is the "lowest possible risk they would ever say is
low which is being-they will never say no risk in an
evaluation." The State objected to the proffered
testimony, and the court continued the case to allow B.C. to
14 When the hearing resumed, Munson testified that she had
notified B.C. via letter that he had successfully completed
the sex offender treatment program and had a low risk to
reoffend. Munson explained that the sex offender treatment
program consisted of three phases: (1) offender check-ins and
learning accountability for the deviant behavior; (2)
accountability, understanding the cognitive errors that led
to the offender's poor choices, and developing empathy
and understanding the impact of the offender's actions on
the victim and society; and (3) managing and understanding
the offender's triggers and high risk areas. These three
phases included 18 assignments and took four years to
complete. At the end of the program, the evaluators
determined whether the offender had changed his erroneous
thinking or had merely moved through the steps.
15 Munson said B.C. enrolled in the program in 2011 and
successfully completed it in 2015. At that time, Munson
prepared a risk assessment. Munson explained the biggest
factor in preparing the assessment was determining whether
B.C. understood his actions were wrong and how to prevent the
behavior in the future. Munson said the following factors
reflected favorably on B.C.'s risk assessment: (1) B.C.
had voluntarily undertaken the sex offender treatment
program, (2) B.C. had a history of continuous employment, (3)
B.C. had a positive family support network, and (4)
B.C.'s family understood the program was not about
"curing" B.C., but educating and training B.C. to
understand the thinking errors that led to the offenses.
Munson ultimately determined that B.C. had a "low risk
to re-offend." Munson said that neither she nor any of
the other evaluators at Dr. James Simone and Associates had
ever issued a "no risk to offend" opinion. The only
options were "low risk, medium risk, or high risk."
16 On cross-examination, Munson explained that the sex
offender treatment program teaches offenders
"to accept that there is always a possibility of
re-offense. That's a part of why we build and instill in
them an understanding of what their triggers are and ways of
making sure that they don't get themselves in situations.
Many of our assignments are based on looking at their cycle
of behavior and then planning for exits of how to ...