JUSTICE BURKE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Chief Justice Karmeier and Justices Freeman, Thomas,
Kilbride, Garman, and Theis concurred in the judgment and
1 The defendant in the case at bar, Theophil Encalado, asked
the trial court during voir dire to question the
venire about whether evidence that he had engaged the
services of a prostitute would influence the prospective
jurors' judgment in any way. The circuit court of Cook
County refused defendant's request, and he was
subsequently found guilty on three counts of aggravated
criminal sexual assault.
2 On appeal, the appellate court, with one justice
dissenting, reversed defendant's convictions and remanded
for a new trial, holding that the trial court "abused
its discretion when it refused to ask venire members
questions about potential bias against persons who
participate in prostitution." 2017 IL App (1st) 142548,
3 For the reasons that follow, we reverse the judgment of the
5 Defendant was indicted on 15 charges of aggravated criminal
sexual assault and 3 charges of criminal sexual assault. In
the indictment, it was alleged that, on the morning of March
5, 2006, defendant knowingly, and by the use of force or
threat of force, committed acts of oral, vaginal, and anal
sexual penetration upon Y.C.
6 Prior to defendant's trial, the State filed a motion to
admit other crimes evidence to show that defendant committed
similar sexual assaults against J.H., C.C., and S.A.
Following a hearing, the trial court granted the State's
request with respect to C.C. and S.A., allowing admittance of
other crimes evidence to show intent, lack of consent, and
propensity. The court denied the State's request with
respect to J.H. but ruled that the State could impeach
defendant with his conviction for predatory criminal sexual
assault against J.H. if he chose to testify.
7 After the trial court ruled to allow the admission of other
crimes evidence, defense counsel advised the court that
defendant intended to testify that Y.C., C.C., and S.A. all
consented to having sex with defendant in exchange for the
payment of cash and drugs but that, after they provided the
agreed services, defendant took back the payments he made.
Counsel stated that the jurors "are going to hear
evidence that [defendant] did engage in soliciting and using
prostitutes." Accordingly, defense counsel asked the
court to inquire of the venire whether "[t]he fact that
you will hear evidence about-and just put it mildly-to not
try to indoctrinate them at all-you will hear evidence about
prostitution. Would that fact alone prevent you from being
fair to either side?" The court refused the request,
finding that the question was improper because it would be
"asking them to comment on particular types of evidence
that they may hear."
8 The matter proceeded to trial on 6 of the 18 counts of
aggravated criminal sexual assault committed against Y.C. At
trial, Y.C. testified that around 6 a.m. on March 5, 2006, as
she was walking on Sawyer Street in Chicago to go to a
bakery, she saw a car parked across the street with a man
inside. The man, whom she did not recognize but later
identified as defendant, called to her. Y.C. crossed the
street on her way to the bakery, bringing her closer to the
car. Defendant then called out to her again, saying
"[Y]o, your cousin Jose, he was looking for you."
Because Y.C. had a cousin Jose who lived a few blocks away,
she went over to the car and asked what Jose wanted.
Defendant, said, "He needs you." Y.C. then got into
9 Once Y.C. was in defendant's car, he began driving in
the opposite direction. Y.C. asked where they were going and
defendant said, "[Y]ou know what this is." Y.C.
testified she did not know what he meant but thought perhaps
she was going to be robbed. Defendant then proceeded to an
alley where there were no other cars or people. At this
point, Y.C. testified, she became very frightened. She told
defendant that she was pregnant and begged defendant not to
do anything to harm her or her unborn child. Defendant,
however, cursed at her and told her to shut up.
10 Y.C. testified that she tried to open the car door, but it
was locked. Defendant became angry and began to strike her
repeatedly in the face. Also, he opened the glove
compartment, showed her a pistol, and threatened to kill her.
Defendant then forced Y.C. to perform oral sex on him, after
which he sexually penetrated her vaginally and anally. When
defendant was finished, he ordered Y.C. out of the car. As
Y.C. tried to "fix" herself because her pants and
underwear fell off her feet, defendant threw her shoe and
underwear out of the car. Also, defendant began pushing Y.C.
out of the car and told her that if she did not leave his car
immediately, he would kill her.
11 After defendant drove away, Y.C. ran into the street and
tried to wave down cars. At this point, Deputy Fernando
Rodriguez of the Cook County Sheriff's Office happened
along, saw Y.C., and stopped to help her. He took Y.C. to the
police station and then to the hospital where a sexual
assault kit was collected. Subsequent analysis of the kit
showed the presence of semen in the vaginal and anal swabs.
Forensic testing matched defendant's DNA to the vaginal
sample but not to the anal sample.
12 Y.C. testified that she moved to South Carolina in 2007
and, in 2009, she went to a South Carolina police department
to view a photo array. From this photo array, she was able to
identify defendant as her assailant. In addition, in May
2009, she came to ...