A Cook County judge set bail at $2 million Tuesday for a taxi driver charged with kidnapping and sexual assault in two separate instances involving female passengers he picked up at a Prospect Heights nightclub.
Schaumburg police arrested Eric Chung, 29, after the second attack early Sunday morning.
Chung, whose last known address was in the 1900 block of Wong Parkway in Chicago, was driving a white Buick taxi van when he picked up a 24-year-old woman and two female friends early Sunday outside the H.O.M.E. Bar. Shortly after the women got into the cab, marked AAA Futura Taxi, Chung began acting inappropriately and the women demanded he let them out, said Sgt. John Nebl, of the Schaumburg Police Department.
The women in the back seat got out at a red light, but as another woman tried to exit the front seat, the cab sped away, trapping her inside, Nebl said. The women immediately called Arlington Heights Police Department to report their friend was being held against her will.
The woman fought Chung as he drove to a Schaumburg office park, where he demanded sex and told her “he did not care if he went to jail,” said Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Maria McCarthy. Chung strangled, slapped and raped the woman, McCarthy said.
Acting on information from Arlington Heights officers, Schaumburg police located the taxi in the 800 block of Algonquin Road. Hearing the woman’s screams, they approached the van as Chung assaulted her, Nebl said.
Calling Chung “a real and present threat ... to victims and the community,” McCarthy asked he be held without bail.
“The defendant used his employment as a cabdriver to lure victims into his cab where they thought they would be safe,” McCarthy said. “The only reason he stopped is because he was caught red-handed by the police.”
Charged with aggravated kidnapping and criminal sexual assault in this most recent case, Chung faces charges of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated criminal sexual abuse related to a similar assault that took place Feb. 2 after he picked a 21-year-old woman up from the same nightclub.
Chung approached the woman, who was waiting outside the bar for a relative, about 4 a.m. and offered to give her a ride, McCarthy said. After the woman declined, Chung invited her to get into the cab to warm up. After she did, he drove to a parking lot behind a gas station where he pinned her down and demanded she perform a sex act, McCarthy said. She escaped and ran screaming to a nearby house where the occupants called police as Chung sped away, McCarthy said.
The 21-year-old accuser identified Chung in a lineup that took place after his Schaumburg arrest, McCarthy said.
AAA Futura Taxi owner Bernaze Valenzuela said he contracts with drivers and that he fired Chung last week after about 10 days work because Chung refused to pay the $100 fee.
Chung must post $200,000 to be released. He next appears in court on March 19.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.