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People v. Ziemba

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

March 23, 2018

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ERIC F. ZIEMBA, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 14-CF-2119 Honorable Donald M. Tegeler, Judge, Presiding.

          JUSTICE SCHOSTOK delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Hudson and Justice Spence concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          SCHOSTOK JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Following a bench trial, defendant, Eric F. Ziemba, was found guilty of involuntary sexual servitude of a minor (720 ILCS 5/10-9(c)(2) (West 2014)), traveling to meet a minor (id. § 11-26(a)), and grooming (id. § 11-25(a)). On appeal, defendant contends that (1) the evidence was insufficient to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of involuntary sexual servitude of a minor and (2) the trial court erroneously admitted certain text messages into evidence. We affirm.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 On December 2, 2014, the following advertisement was placed online by an officer from the Aurora Police Department as part of an undercover sting operation conducted with the assistance of special agents from the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS):

"*******Sweet and juicy cHERRY waiting to be picked**** - 18
Its sooooo cold!!!! Come warm up with a very young and eager co-ed waiting to please and fulfill your every desire. I'm a sexy brunette down for what ever you please. Text at [number omitted]. Gentlemen only..I;m [sic] waiting for you. Available all day..$150/h.. 100/hh
Poster's age: 18"

         ¶ 4 Defendant responded to the advertisement via text message, unaware that he was communicating with Sergeant Alfredo Dean of the Aurora Police Department. The following is the text exchange that occurred between defendant and Dean:

"[DEFENDANT]: Where are you located? Are you a cop?
[DEAN]: near sugar grove and no
[DEFENDANT]: No far. Oswego here
[DEAN]: what r u lookin 4
[DEFENDANT]: What do u offer
[DEAN]: my girls will do what i tell them
[DEFENDANT]: Your girls? So who am I talking to?
[DEAN]: mom
[DEFENDANT]: Ah so are these your daughters?
[DEAN]: yes
[DEFENDANT]: How old are they? I just want to be sure I am not getting scammed here
[DEAN]: 14 yr and 15 yr
[DEAN]: no scam just xtra x mas $$$
[DEFENDANT]: Your post said 18
[DEFENDANT]: Do you do things?
[DEAN]: I know no just teaching 2day
[DEFENDANT]: Ok.
[DEFENDANT]: Where would this happen?
[DEFENDANT]: ?
[DEAN]: hotel
[DEFENDANT]: In sugar grove?
[DEFENDANT]: Are you interested?
[DEAN]: are u? we r ready
[DEFENDANT]: I am. Will you be in the room?
[DEAN]: i will leave and return once time is up
[DEFENDANT]: Can I see a pic of who I would see? I feel a little nervous about this. Could be a trap
[DEAN]: no trap pics posted r real
[DEFENDANT]: There is only one
[DEAN]: i know its real
[DEFENDANT]: What is the rate?
[DEAN]: i know its real
[DEAN]: 100 hh 150 h
[DEFENDANT]: You said that already. What is the rate??
[DEFENDANT]: Oh ok
[DEFENDANT]: What are they able to do!
[DEAN]: 100 hh 150 hh
[DEAN]: anything i tell them to do
[DEFENDANT]: Even each other?
[DEAN]: upcharge each other
[DEFENDANT]: What is that?
[DEAN]: xtra $$ for their show
[DEFENDANT]: I know. Amount
[DEAN]: $50
[DEFENDANT]: Ok. So where would I have to go?
[DEAN]: we are near 88/orchard text when ur near
[DEFENDANT]: How many guys have they seen today?
[DEFENDANT]: Why are they not in school)
[DEAN]: we just started day off to make some ...

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