Updated 02/26/13 – 12:35 p.m.
ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. (CBS) – A homeless Chinese immigrant cab driver who was arrested this weekend for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a passenger has been charged in a second similar attack earlier in the month.
In both cases, 29-year-old Eric Chung has been charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. His bail has been set at a combined $2 million for the two attacks.
Chung’s public defender said he was born in China, but is a U.S. Citizen.
Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Maria McCarthy said he’s a threat to the community, and preyed on two women who thought they were getting into a safe place when they entered his cab. In her words, “their worst nightmare happened.”
“He used his employment as a cab driver to lure innocent young women into his cab, a place where they thought that they would be safe,” she said.
Chung was arrested Sunday, after police found him sexually assaulting a woman inside his cab in the parking lot of an industrial park in Schaumburg.
Police said Chung picked up three women early Sunday in his cab – a white Buick Terraza van with markings from the AAA Futura Taxi company – after they called for a taxi from Home Bar, a tavern in Prospect Heights.
The women demanded Chung stop the van when he started acting inappropriately, and two of the women were able to get out of the cab at a red light. But Chung allegedly sped away as the third woman was trying to get out, trapping her inside.
The victim fought with Chung as he drove off, McCarthy said.
“He then began strangling her, to the point where the victim thought that she was going to die,” she said.
The two other women immediately called police, and when police tracked the van to the parking lot of an industrial park in the 800 block of East Algonquin Road in Schaumburg, officers heard the 24-year-old woman in the cab yelling for help. The officers caught Chung in the act of sexually assaulting the woman, and arrested him.
“The only reason that he stopped committing these offenses was that he was caught red-handed by the police,” McCarthy said.
The woman was taken to a local hospital for her injuries.
Prosecutors said, in another attack on Feb. 2, Chung offered to let a 21-year-old woman sit in his cab to get warm after spotting her outside the same Prospect Heights bar, where she was waiting for a ride.
When she accepted his offer, he drove away and parked behind a gas station, where he fondled her breasts and demanded sex from her.
“She agreed so that he would then move off of her for a moment. When he did so, she was able to get out of the taxi van, and run,” McCarthy said.
Chung allegedly used that victim’s credit card at a gas station the same day.
Prosecutors said Chung has previously lived in Chicago, but most recently was homeless and had been living in the cab.
A representative for the cab company said Chung was fired last Wednesday, and he should have removed the company’s logo from his vehicle when he was fired.