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People v. Haberkorn

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

April 3, 2018

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MATTHEW HABERKORN, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois. Appeal No. 3-16-0599 Circuit No. 15-CF-2656 Honorable Sarah Jones, Judge, Presiding.

          JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Carter and Justice McDade concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          SCHMIDT JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Defendant, Matthew Haberkorn, appeals from his conviction and sentence for unlawful presence at a facility providing services exclusively directed toward children by a child sex offender (720 ILCS 5/11-9.3(c) (West 2014)). Specifically, he argues that (1) the State's evidence failed to prove him guilty and (2) the trial court erred in denying his posttrial motion based on a defective indictment. We reverse.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 In July 2008, defendant, then a 17-year-old high school student, pled guilty to criminal sexual abuse, a Class A misdemeanor, after he and his 15-year-old high school girlfriend had sex (720 ILCS 5/12-15(c) (West 2006)). As a result of that conviction, defendant is required to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) (730 ILCS 150/3 (West 2014)).

         ¶ 4 Eight years later, defendant accompanied his cousin and her three children onto a bus chartered by Easter Seals. A parent on the bus recognized defendant as a sex offender. Immediately thereafter, an Easter Seals employee asked defendant to exit the bus, which he did without incident.

         ¶ 5 In January 2016, the Will County State's Attorney charged defendant by criminal indictment with unlawful presence at a facility providing services exclusively directed toward children (720 ILCS 5/11-9.3(c) (West 2014)). Specifically, the indictment alleged that on or about November 4, 2015, "defendant, a child sex offender, was knowingly present on a school bus chartered by a facility providing programs or services exclusively directed toward persons under the age of 18, namely Easter Seals, while children were present on said school bus."

         ¶ 6 Defendant's bench trial commenced in July 2016. At trial, the parties stipulated to a number of facts, including that (1) defendant was a registered sex offender having been convicted of criminal sexual abuse, a Class A misdemeanor, in 2008; (2) on November 4, 2015, Easter Seals chartered a bus as part of its Jump Start program to take a group of parents and children on a field trip to the Ball Factory in Naperville; (3) approximately 20 children and their 20 parents as well as parent educators for the program were on the bus; (4) defendant was on the bus with his cousin, who was enrolled in the program, and her three children; (5) the bus picked up defendant at Walmart in Joliet; (6) a parent on the bus recognized defendant as being a sex offender and notified one of the parent educators; and (7) Easter Seals' personnel asked defendant to exit the bus, which he did without incident.

         ¶ 7 I. The State's Evidence

         ¶ 8 Dana Christian, a parent educator with Easter Seals for 4½ years, testified for the State as follows. Easter Seals is a national organization that "provide[s] different services for people with disabilities." It offers services for adults, including an adult day services program, a residential home for adults with disabilities, and support groups for parents that have autistic children.

         ¶ 9 Easter Seals' Jump Start program is a parent-enrichment program that focuses on "helping parents be better parents." It "provide[s] parental support to families that *** have children up to the age of three or [are] pregnant." The goals of the program include strengthening parent/child relationships, reinforcing parenting skills, and teaching parents how to manage the stress of parenting. The program also works with parents suspected of child abuse and parents involved with the correctional system. The program offers no classes for children and is not a school.

         ¶ 10 On November 4, 2015, Easter Seals chartered two buses for a field trip to the Ball Factory in Naperville as part of its Jump Start program. The event was "for the families and the children." The buses picked up families in the Walmart parking lot in Joliet. Shortly after the passengers boarded, one of the parents informed Christian that a sex offender, whom she identified as defendant, was on the bus. Defendant exited the bus upon being asked to do so.

         ¶ 11 On cross-examination, the following colloquy occurred:

"Q. Would you agree with me that Jump Start is a parent enrichment program?
A. Yes.
Q. And the focus of Jump Start is the parents, correct?
A. Is the family.
Q. Is the family, and helping parents be better parents?
A. Yes.
* * *
Q. So by helping the family-by helping the children, you try to help the parents, and the title, parent educator, captures the essence of the program, correct?
A. Yes.
Q. And the goal of the program is to strengthen parent/child relationships, correct?
A. Correct.
Q. Reinforce parenting skills, correct?
A. Correct.
Q. And one of the things that the program teaches is how to help parents manage with stress-manage the stress of parenting, correct?
A. Correct.
* * *
Q. And another aspect of the program are what is known as group-parent meetings, correct?
A. Correct.
Q. And those programs are for parents, that's where the parents meet, right?
* * *
A. Yes.
* * *
Q. [In addition to group-parent meetings], there are field trips that foster good will, correct?
A. Yes.
Q. And the visit to the Ball Factory is what you described as a field trip that fosters good will?
A. Yes.
* * *
Q. And just so we are real clear, one does not have to be under the age of 18 to participate in a Jump ...

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