Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fourth Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 14 CR 11107 The
Honorable Matthew E. Coghlan, Judge, presiding.
Attorneys for Appellant: James E. Chadd, Patricia Mysza, and
Pamela Rubeo, of State Appellate Defender's Office, of
Chicago, for appellant.
Attorneys for Appellee: Kimberly M. Foxx, State's
Attorney, of Chicago (Alan J. Spellberg and Mary L. Boland,
Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.
JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Justices Gordon and Reyes concurred in the judgment and
1 Following a bench trial, defendant, Walter Wells, appeals
his convictions of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and
aggravated battery in a public place. Defendant was sentenced
to two concurrent terms of three years' imprisonment. On
appeal, defendant contends that the evidence presented was
insufficient to sustain his convictions because (1) the
victim's testimony was incredible and uncorroborated and
(2) the State failed to prove the battery occurred on public
property. Defendant also argues that the Sex Offender
Registration Act (SORA) (730 ILCS 150/1 et seq.
(West 2014)) violates substantive and procedural due process.
For the following reasons, we affirm.
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 In June 2014, defendant was indicted in the present case
with one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse (720 ILCS
5/11-1.60(f) (West 2014)) and two counts of aggravated
battery (id. § 12-3.05(c)) of K.A., a minor at
least 13 years old but under 18 years old. At the same time,
defendant was also charged in five other cases involving
similar allegations. After his convictions in the present
case, the State nol-prossed the other charges.
4 At trial, K.A. testified that from 2011 to 2015, she
attended Hubbard High School located in Chicago, Illinois.
She was 19 years old at the time of trial. She identified
defendant as a security guard at the school and a coach of
the girls' swim and water polo teams at her school.
Defendant's security post was at the back entrance of the
school. K.A. testified that in January 2014, K.A. approached
defendant to inquire about joining the water polo team.
Defendant was sitting at a desk at the security post at the
back entrance. K.A. testified that defendant responded that
practices would start in the coming weeks and that K.A. could
join. K.A. testified that she started to leave, but defendant
asked for a hug. K.A. walked around the desk, and defendant
stood up. K.A. testified that as defendant hugged her, he
slid his hand down from the middle of her back and squeezed
her left buttock. K.A. testified that no one else was
present. K.A. testified that his conduct made her feel
"extremely uncomfortable" and she left.
5 K.A. testified that after this incident, she saw defendant
around the school but did not speak to him because she was
scared and also had no reason to speak to him. K.A. testified
that in early February 2014, she again spoke to defendant
while he was stationed at his post by the back entrance of
the school. K.A. testified that defendant was standing in the
doorway of the entrance and there were other people in the
area. K.A. asked defendant when water polo practice would
start; defendant responded that it would start next week or
the week after. K.A. testified that defendant then asked,
"where's my hug?" K.A. testified that she gave
him a hug, but attempted to position her arms underneath his
to avoid being touched again. K.A. testified that defendant
moved his arm underneath K.A.'s and used his right hand
to squeeze her left nipple with his finger and thumb. K.A.
testified that she "smacked his hand away" and then
stated, "so practice starts this upcoming week."
K.A. testified that defendant responded, "yes, or you
can come early and show me what you've got, just
don't tell my wife." K.A. testified that she felt
scared and uncomfortable and she left. K.A. told her mother
in early March 2014. She was interviewed by a detective from
the Chicago Police Department on March 4, 2014.
6 On cross-examination, K.A. testified that she knew
defendant as "Jay" and had seen him every day for
about a year before the January 2014 incident. She testified
that defendant did not ask for a hug or grab her prior to
that incident. She believed the January 2014 incident
occurred after school and before softball practice on a
Monday or a Tuesday. K.A. believed there were approximately
1500 students at her school and approximately 500 were still
in the building at 3:45 p.m., when the incident occurred, but
she could not recall whether any people were around the back
entrance when defendant hugged her. She testified that she
did not use the back entrance every day. Sometimes there was
one guard and sometimes there were two guards stationed
there. She did not know if there were security cameras, but
she did not observe any there.
7 K.A. testified when defendant hugged her in January, he
placed his left hand down her back and across to her right
buttock. She moved his hand away, but she did not say
anything. She told her friend J. what happened. She also
testified that she still wanted to join the water polo team
even after the hug. She had been on the swim team during the
September to November season. After the incident in February,
K.A. did not play or practice on the water polo team. She
testified that the February incident occurred after school.
8 K.A. testified that in 2013 to 2014, her boyfriend was D.P.
and he was on the swim team. He was not on the water polo
team because he had night school. K.A. testified that the
other coach of the water polo team was defendant's wife,
Robin, who was also a security guard at the school. Robin
coached the girls' swim team while defendant coached the
boys' swim team. K.A. testified that she broke up with
D.P. after her swim program ended. K.A. denied speaking to
Robin about issues with D.P. She denied that Robin and
defendant intervened in her relationship with D.P.
K.A. testified that she and D.P. had issues before any
intervention by Robin or defendant and she did not blame them
for the breakup.
9 The State presented evidence of other crimes through the
testimony of J.O. and A.B. In that regard, J.O. testified
that she attended Hubbard High School from 2010 to 2014 and
identified defendant as a security guard and coach. J.O.
testified that defendant was "really friendly" and
a "nice guy" when she met him. J.O. testified that
early in her freshman year in 2010, defendant was walking
with J.O. to the back entrance before school started and
while they stood in the hallway near the stairs, defendant
reached out for a hug. J.O. testified that she hugged him
back, but defendant's arm swiped across her buttocks.
J.O. testified that over time, defendant asked for
approximately more than 50 hugs and swiped his hand across
her buttocks each time. J.O. entered school through the back
entrance because that is where the bus dropped her off. She
testified that she eventually told the school counselor, Ms.
Jones, but J.O. claimed it "was just put under the
rug." J.O. later spoke with Detective Lisa Sandoval from
the Chicago Police Department on March 4, 2014. J.O. did not
inform Sandoval about telling the school counselor.
10 A.B., another student at Hubbard High School, testified
that she saw defendant almost every day, either at the front
or rear entrance to the school. A.B. testified that in
December 2013 or January 2014, she attended a boys'
basketball game after school with her boyfriend, A. During
the game, A.B. went to the vending machine in the hallway
near the back entrance. A.B. testified that as A. and other
students stood nearby, A.B. asked defendant for money to
purchase a Pop-Tart from the vending machine. A.B. explained
that defendant usually gave students money if they asked.
A.B. testified that defendant gave her a dollar and asked for
a hug. A.B. testified that when defendant hugged her, his
hand trailed down her back and he grabbed her buttocks. A.B.
testified that defendant had given her money on 20 to 30
previous occasions but he had never hugged her or touched her
butt before. A.B. pulled away, purchased the Pop-Tart, and
returned to A., who had observed what had occurred and seemed
upset that A.B. did not get angry at defendant. A.B.
testified that in early March 2014, she told the school
counselor and the principal about the incident but only after
she had been called into a meeting regarding defendant.
11 Sandoval testified that she was assigned to investigate a
case involving a security guard at Hubbard High School on
March 3, 2014, which was an ongoing investigation involving
at least four other girls who had complained of inappropriate
touching. On March 10 or 18, witnesses were brought to the
office two at a time to be interviewed. Sandoval interviewed
each girl individually, with an assistant state's
attorney and a representative from the Department of Children
and Family Services present. She first talked to K.A. and
learned of a prior incident. Sandoval found a prior report in
her computer and learned of the names of four other girls.
Sandoval arrested defendant at his home on May 30, 2014.
12 The parties stipulated that Nancy Wiley would testify that
she was the principal of Hubbard High School in Chicago from
2010 to 2015, that defendant was employed by the Chicago
Public Schools at Hubbard High School as a security guard and
boys' water polo and swim coach between 2010 and 2014,
and that defendant resigned from the Chicago Public Schools
on June 5, 2014. Defendant moved for a directed finding of
not guilty, which the trial court denied. The defense then
13 Following closing arguments, the circuit court convicted
defendant of all charges. The circuit court found that the
State's witnesses were credible and had no motive to
testify falsely. The circuit court observed that although
there was no corroborating physical evidence, this was not
surprising given the nature of the allegations. The court
further found that the investigation revealed similar
allegations involving other girls wherein defendant
ingratiated himself to the girls, gave hugs, and squeezed
their buttocks. Concerning the aggravated criminal sexual
abuse charge, the circuit court found that the State had
proven that defendant committed the conduct for the purpose
of sexual arousal or gratification based on K.A.'s
testimony that defendant told her to come early to swim
practice to "show him what she had" and to not tell
his wife. The circuit court subsequently denied
defendant's motion for a new trial.
14 At the sentencing hearing, Sandoval testified for the
State that three other students reported similar incidents to
her. She testified that although there were security cameras,
the girls were unable to recall the specific days on which
the incidents occurred. The victim impact statement of K.A.
and another girl were presented to the court. In mitigation,
defendant presented the testimony of his wife and his mother.
Defendant had no criminal background. In allocution,
defendant expressed that he was baffled by the accusations
and felt "railroaded" by them. The State pointed
out that defendant had been found guilty, that six high
school girls accused him of very similar conduct, and that
defendant had resisted arrest. The circuit court found
probation was not appropriate given the number of incidents
reported. It merged count II, aggravated battery, into count
I, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and sentenced defendant
to concurrent terms of three years' imprisonment on count
I and count III. Defendant's motion to reconsider
sentence was subsequently denied. Defendant filed a timely
15 II. ANALYSIS
16 A. Sufficiency of the Evidence
17 On appeal, defendant challenges the sufficiency of the
evidence supporting his convictions on two grounds: (1) the
trial testimony was uncorroborated and incredible and (2)
with regard to aggravated battery, there ...