Monk Denies Trying To Lure Children
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ANTIOCH, Ill. (STMW) – The Benedictine monk accused of offering rides to four underage girls denied child abduction charges at his arraignment on Tuesday.
Thomas Chmura , 57, was in court for his arraignment and bond review before Judge Christopher Stride.
He is accused of attempting to lure four children into his vehicle on April 25 and April 26. The children were all females, ages 14, 12, 12 and 11, Assistant State’s Attorney Victor O’Block said.
“After Miranda, he admits (to police) to coming to Antioch five to 10 times during a six-week period asking girls for rides,” O’Block said.
There are two uncharged incidents in which Chmura is alleged to have tried to pick up a 17-year-old female, O’Block said.
Chmura faces one to three years in prison if he is convicted, Stride said. Alternately, Chmura could receive 30 months of probation or 18 months periodic imprisonment and a fine up to $25,000 per each of the four counts, Stride said.
Chmura’s defense attorneys Kenneth Clark and Robert Hauser asked Stride to revisit bond.
Bond was first set at $50,000. Chmura posted 10 percent and returned to St. Benedict’s Abbey in Benet Lake, Wis., where he resides as a monk.
Pretrial bond services visited the abbey and discovered there is a treatment facility for children on the property. Chmura’s bond was revoked and he was taken back into custody.
Stride increased bond to $150,000 May 9.
“I set bond because I didn’t think it was an instance for no bond,” Stride said.
Hauser asked Stride to consider putting Chmura on a 24-hour curfew and electronic home monitoring. Chmura’s adopted father, who lives in Lansing in Cook County, is willing to allow Chmura to live with him, Clark and Hauser said.
“Lansing is not exactly the end of the world. We do have a presumption of innocence. We’re not talking about someone chasing someone down the street with a knife. We’re talking about someone opening a door or (offering) through a window offering a ride,” Hauser said.
Nowhere in the allegations against Chmura is it alleged that he grabbed at any of the children to force them in the car, Hauser said.
“When they refused, he just left,” Hauser said.
Hauser also said his client has no criminal history.
O’Block asked Stride to leave bond at $150,000.
Stride set the bond issue over to Friday to give pretrial bond services time to see if Cook County would be willing to monitor Chmura.
Chmura remains in custody at Lake County Jail. He is due for trial May 31.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)