Prosecutors: Cabbie who assaulted passenger also charged in 2nd attack

The cabdriver charged in a weekend sexual assault of a passenger in Schaumburg has also been charged for a similar assault against a passenger on Feb. 2, authorities said in court this morning as a judge set bail totaling $2 million for the two incidents.

Eric Chung, 29, has been charged in both cases with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated criminal sexual abuse, both felonies. The woman in the alleged Feb. 2 assault identified Chung following his arrest for the second incident on Sunday, when police say they found the cabdriver sexually assaulting a woman in his van in a Schaumburg industrial park.

“The defendant poses a threat to the victim and the community,” Cook County Assistant State’s Atty. Maria McCarthy said as she asked for no bail for Chung. “He told police he is homeless and essentially lives in his cab. He used his employment as a cabdriver to lure these women into his cab, where they thought they would be safe, but where their worst nightmare happened. The only reason he stopped was because he was caught in the act.”

In the incident on Sunday, a 24-year-old Arlington Heights woman had entered the taxi with two friends after leaving a bar in Prospect Heights early Sunday, according to the Schaumburg Police Department. The Feb. 2 incident began outside the same establishment, Home Bar in the 1200 block of Rand Road, McCarthy said.  

On Sunday, the women asked the cab to stop after Chung began acting "inappropriately," according to police. Two of the friends managed to leave at a red light, but Chung started driving before the third passenger could leave.

After the friends called police, authorities in Arlington Heights launched a search for the cab. Shortly after, police determined the cab was in Schaumburg and alerted the Schaumburg Police Department.

About 5:30 a.m., Schaumburg police found a vehicle matching the cab's description in the 800 block of East Algonquin Road. As officers approached, they heard a woman yelling, and they discovered a sexual assault in progress. Chung was taken into custody, and the woman was taken to a hospital for treatment.

“She thought she was going to die,” McCarthy said in court. “So she played dead.”

McCarthy said Chung began CPR, and slapped the woman, and she pretended to wake up. He removed her clothes and began raping her, McCarthy said.

When police arrived, Chung pulled up his pants and told her not to tell anybody, McCarthy said.

Police have said that Chung’s last known address was in the 1900 block of Wong Parkway in Chicago. His public defender this morning said that he was born in China, but is a U.S. citizen.

At the time of the Sunday assault, Chung had been driving a cab with markings of the AAA Futura Taxi Service. Chung had worked for the company for only a week and a half before being terminated last Wednesday for failing to pay the company money he owed, owner Bernie Valenzuela said.

Drivers are supposed to remove the company lettering from their vehicle after being terminated, Valenzuela said.

During the Feb. 2 incident, Chung was an independent cab driver and not affiliated with any taxi company and was driving his own vehicle, said Prospect Heights Deputy Police Chief Al Steffen. Investigators also learned that he had changed vehicles, Steffen said.

Police alerted other police agencies about the incident after it was reported to them but they did not issue a public alert because investigators were trying to track the man down, Steffen said.

What made it more complicated was that the victim in the earlier case could not give a clear description of the offender or the vehicle that was used, Steffen said. The woman picked Chung out of a line up on Monday evening, Steffen said. Police reached out to Schaumburg police after the weekend arrest because it seemed similar to the earlier incident.

McCarthy that in the Feb. 2 incident, Chung was parked outside Home Bar at about 4 a.m. when a 21-year-old woman was standing outside. Chung told her he could take her home, but the woman said she was waiting for a relative to pick her up, McCarthy said. She accepted his offer to wait in his cab, McCarthy said, adding that he drove away when she got in.

He parked behind a gas station, pushed her down, and started to fondle her breasts, McCarthy said. He demanded a sex act but then she escaped from the cab and ran screaming to nearby house, McCarthy said. The prosecutor said Chung used her credit card at a gas station that morning.

George Houde is a freelance journalist, Adam Sege and Carlos Sadovi are Tribune staff reporters.

Twitter: @AdamSege

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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