Monk charged in Antioch child abduction held on $150,000 bond
Authorities say they believe a Benedictine monk charged with attempting to lure a 14-year-old girl into his car in Antioch suffers from mental health problems.
Bail was increased to $150,000 Thursday for Thomas J. Chmura, 57, who faces four counts of child abduction. He has a listed address at St. Benedict's Abbey, 12600 224th St. in Benet Lake, Wis.
After the hearing, Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Victor O'Block said authorities believe Chmura may have some mental health issues, "based on statements made to police." He did not elaborate.
Chmura was due to be arraigned on the charges Thursday, but the hearing was continued because his complete defense team could not attend. His arraignment was delayed to May 14.
Chmura is accused of trying to pick up the 14-year-old girl as she walked on Skidmore Drive about 8 p.m. on April 25.
According to police, Chmura was driving a silver station wagon when he rolled up next to the girl and asked if she wanted a ride. When she declined, he said, "Come on, you're so beautiful, let me drive you home," according to police.
When she declined a second time, the driver said, "Get in the car," at which point she ran and the man drove away, police said.
The girl provided a detailed description of the station wagon. She described its driver as a white man, about 40 to 50 years old with a brownish/gray beard and blue eyes.
The next day, an off-duty Antioch officer observed a Ford station wagon matching the girl's description pull up alongside three females on the sidewalk, authorities said.
The officer wrote down the license plate number, and attempted to follow the vehicle until he lost sight of it at the Wisconsin state line.
Several hours later, Antioch police noticed the same vehicle as it headed south on Route 83, then stopped it and arrested Chmura.
When Chmura's bail was initially set at $50,000, he was told not to have contact with anyone under the age of 17.
That bond was revoked May 2 after police and court officials performed a check on him at St. Benedict's and found minors at the religious compound. His bail was increased to $150,000 Thursday.
In a statement, abbey officials said Chmura was under constant supervision by members of the abbey and at no time "was he permitted to be in the presence of minors."
The statement continues that "on the campus of the abbey, a separate building is used by minors who are under constant adult supervision. In that sense only, minors were in a location not far from the abbey building,"
If found guilty, Chmura could be sentenced up to three years in prison. He could also be sentenced to probation.