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updated: 5/23/2013 4:29 PM

Bail lowered for monk accused of trying to lure girls

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  • Thomas Chmura

      Thomas Chmura

 
 

A monk accused of trying to lure teenage girls into his car in Antioch last month has been freed on bail, but he cannot return to his Wisconsin religious compound.

Bail for Thomas Chmura, 57, was lowered by Lake County Judge Christopher Stride from $150,000 to $50,000 late last week. Chmura had been held in the Lake County jail since May 2.

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Stride also imposed restrictions that require Chmura to live with his father in Lansing, Ill., remain on 24-hour curfew, and wear an ankle-monitoring device at all times.

Because a fourth condition of his bail is to not have contact with anyone under the age of 17, Chmura is not allowed to return to his previous address at St. Benedict's Abbey in Benet Lake, Wis. The Abbey houses children under the age of 17 on the property.

Chmura also must remain in constant contact with the Lansing Police Department and the Cook County probation court services.

Chmura appeared in front of Lake County Judge James Booras on Thursday for a pretrial hearing, where his trial date was pushed back until July 12.

Chmura is charged with four counts of child abduction for trying to lure teenage girls into his car while they were walking in downtown Antioch on April 25 and 26.

According to police, Chmura was driving a silver station wagon when he pulled up next to a girl April 25 and asked if she wanted a ride. When she declined, authorities say, he badgered the teen to get in the car until she ran away.

After she contacted police and provided a description of the car and Chmura, an off-duty Antioch officer observed the same vehicle on April 26 pull up alongside three underage teenage girls walking on a sidewalk and ask them if they needed rides, authorities said.

Chmura was arrested by Antioch officers later that day while he was driving south on Route 83.

Chmura was initially issued a bail of $50,000 -- which he paid -- but that bail was revoked and increased after police and court officials performed a check on him at the Abbey and found minors at the religious compound.

Officials at the Abbey said the youths were never in contact with Chmura and were staying in a different building.

During Thursday's hearing Booras and Chmura's defense attorney had a brief exchange regarding Chmura being freed on $50,000 bail and living in Lansing.

"I view this as a very serious case," Booras told defense attorney Robert Hauser of Waukegan.

But, Hauser said: "The facts are that the defendant is accused of offering rides on two different occasions. When the offers of the rides were declined, the defendant drove away."

If found guilty, Chmura could be sentenced to up to three years in prison. He could also be sentenced to probation.

He is due back in court on June 14 for a pretrial hearing.

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