Dozens of new sex abuse charges lodged against Prospect Heights couple
Cook County prosecutors on Tuesday announced dozens of new charges against a Prospect Heights couple arrested earlier this year on allegations they sexually abused teenagers they had invited to their home.
Christopher Wheeler, 31, and his husband, Anthony Wheeler, 25 -- who have three similar cases pending -- were charged in four new cases with aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, child pornography and aggravated domestic battery among other charges.
Cook County Judge Steven Goebel ordered the men held without bail.
According to prosecutors, one of the accusers is a teenage relative who had been beaten and sexually assaulted for five years.
"Each and every one occurred with force or threat of force," said Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Lorna Amado-Chevlin referring to the charges of abuse. "It was beaten into the head of (the accuser) that what happens in this house stays in this house."
In the second case, the defendants were charged with sexually abusing and videotaping a teenage friend of the relative. The boy, who was about 14 years old at the time, was instructed not to look at the camera, Amado-Chevlin said.
Police recovered from the Wheelers' home deleted digital files with multiple images of teens being sexually abused, prosecutors said.
Another case involved a previously unknown teeange boy who was identified through the deleted video files officers recovered.
"I've investigated lots of sex crimes and I've never had one as heinous as this," said officer Stephanie Conboy, public information officer for the Prospect Heights Police Department.
The final new case involved a teenage boy, who was 14 years old when the abuse started last December, prosecutors said.
"He was already in a very vulnerable state," Amado-Chevlin said. "These defendants knew about him ... that's how he became a victim."
Asking for substantial bail, Amado-Chevlin stressed the seriousness of the allegations, the danger the defendants pose to the accusers and the community, as well as bus tickets recovered from their home, which she said indicated they intended to flee the state.
"There is no bond that is comprehensible to afford to these defendants," she said.
Before the new charges, Christopher Wheeler had been held in Cook County jail on $4 million bail. Anthony Wheeler had been held on $3 million bail.