People v. Bingham  2014 IL 115964

 

 

Appellate citation: 2013 IL App (4th) 120414

 

      CHIEF JUSTICE GARMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

      Justices Freeman, Thomas, Kilbride, Karmeier, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.

 

      In 2009, Julianna Bingham, who is now 22, pled guilty in the circuit court of Macon County to the aggravated battery of the assistant principal of her Decatur high school. She was placed on 24 months of probation. In January of 2011, the State alleged that she had committed another battery and sought to revoke her probation based on an incident in a group home in which Bingham allegedly placed her hand on the buttocks of a seventeen-year-old girl. That victim testified at the hearing that the defendant later asked her to “get on her bed with her.” In July of that same year, the State petitioned to have Bingham declared sexually dangerous and committed to the Department of Corrections until recovered and released. The circuit court granted the petition and appointed the Director of the Department as her guardian. The appellate court, however, found the evidence was insufficient and reversed.

      In this appeal by the State, the parties agreed that one of the elements which has to be shown for a person to be classified as sexually dangerous has been proved—i.e., that the defendant had a mental disorder for at least one year prior to the filing of the petition.

      The two other elements required by the Sexually Dangerous Persons Act are disputed in this appeal, namely, whether the defendant has criminal propensities to the commission of sex offenses and whether she demonstrated propensities toward acts of sexual assault or acts of sexual molestation of children. However, neither the Act nor the Criminal Code defines “sex offenses,” and “sexual conduct” is defined in the Criminal Code only as involving sex organs, anus, or breasts. Two doctors who had interviewed the defendant were called to testify as experts. One of them opined that she was “predisposed *** to engage in recurrent improper and aggressive activity with women,” and the other testified that she had a “sexual identity disorder.” The testimony before the circuit court revealed only one incident involving attempted sexual conduct as defined by statute. A 23-year-old teacher testified that, in 2010, the defendant “tried to stick her hand down into my shirt” and that she “didn’t actually get underneath my bra, but she was trying to do that.” When the teacher walked out of the room, the defendant slapped her on the buttocks. This buttocks-touching incident, and others referred to in the record, are not sex offenses as defined by statute. Neither is the defendant’s forcible kissing of this 23-year-old teacher on the mouth as part of the above incident. The appellate court said that the defendant’s conduct may have been chargeable under some provision of the Criminal Code, but that the State did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she is a sexually dangerous person as provided in the Sexually Dangerous Persons Act. Its reversal was affirmed.