Is Suggestion of ''Sexual Interest In Young Girls'' Allowed on Cross-Examination ?

In People v. Judge III, 221 Ill. App. 3d 753, 582 N.E.2d 1211, 164 Ill. Dec. 267 (1991) (hereinafter Judge), the defendant was convicted of aggravated criminal sexual assault of a seven-year-old girl following a bench trial. Judge, 221 Ill. App. 3d at 753. At trial, the State called the victim, the victim's examining physician, and the victim's mother to testify. Judge, 221 Ill. App. 3d at 754-56. The defendant subsequently testified, and, on cross-examination, the prosecutor elicited from the defendant the fact that, as the oldest boy in a family with six sisters, he" ' grew up with younger girls around the house all the time.'" Judge, 221 Ill. App. 3d at 756. The prosecutor also asked the defendant whether any of the foster children in his mother's home were girls who were younger than he, to which he answered in the affirmative. Judge, 221 Ill. App. 3d at 756-57. The prosecutor further asked the defendant whether he had engaged in sexual intercourse with his girlfriend when she was 15 years old; whether the defendant had seen his girlfriend in a bathing suit when she was 12 years old and told his co-workers that he was excited by her; whether he had been attracted to, or sexually interested in, younger girls throughout his life; whether he had ever discussed sexually explicit matters with children; and whether he was able to identify in court a young girl to whom he had made sexual remarks. Judge, 221 Ill. App. 3d at 757. The defendant answered each of the above questions in the negative. Judge, 221 Ill. App. 3d at 757. The defendant's girlfriend testified, on behalf of the defendant, that the defendant had never seen her in a bathing suit when she was 12 years old. Judge, 221 Ill. App. 3d at 757. The defendant also offered witnesses to testify as to his moral character. Judge, 221 Ill. App. 3d at 757. The State then called a 13-year-old girl as a witness, the same girl who defendant was asked previously to identify in court. Judge, 221 Ill. App. 3d at 757-58. She testified that the defendant had told her, among other things, that "'he wanted to lay down and sleep with her. "Judge, 221 Ill. App. 3d at 758. The State also called the victim's father, who testified that he had made several attempts to arrange dates for the defendant, but that the defendant had said that most of the girls were too old for him. Judge, 221 Ill. App. 3d at 758. The State then presented its closing argument, which noted the defendant's "involvement with children," and stated that, contrary to the defendant's testimony "that he has no interest in children," "the man in this case has been shown to have a consistent interest in young children." Judge, 221 Ill. App. 3d at 758. On appeal, the defendant argued that he was denied a fair trial due to "the prosecutor's repeated elicitation of evidence and argument to the court" suggesting that the defendant had a perverted and unnatural interest in young girls. Judge, 221 Ill. App. 3d at 759. The State argued that its cross-examination "was proper for the purpose of rebutting evidence as to defendant's good character." Judge, 221 Ill. App. 3d at 759. In response, the Judge court stated: "Contrary to the State's contention, defendant's testimony regarding his moral character did not permit the State to introduce evidence or to suggest that defendant had a sexual interest in young girls. 'Particular acts of misconduct cannot be shown on cross-examination or in rebuttal.' Most disturbing is that the State did not show defendant had a propensity to have improper relationships with young girls nor was it even established as true. We believe the State merely raised unsupported allegations of misconduct so as to substitute insinuation and innuendo for proof. This line of questioning, which was not supported by the record, served only to raise unfounded allegations of misconduct. In addition, we believe the State's questions as to whether defendant grew up with younger females in his home and was sexually attracted to them was intended to suggest that defendant was guilty of acts of misconduct with other children. This line of cross-examination was highly prejudicial and irrelevant. Moreover, the allegations were never proved by the State. Because the probative value of the State's questioning was so greatly outweighed by its prejudicial effect, we find the State's conduct resulted in error which denied defendant a fair trial." Judge, 221 Ill. App. 3d at 760.