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Man charged in case of teen allegedly held captive

  • AP
    Members of the Madison County tactical response team take a two-year-old child to a waiting ambulance Thursday evening

WASHINGTON PARK, Ill. >> A 25-year-old southwestern Illinois man was charged Saturday with aggravated criminal sexual abuse in connection with a St. Louis teenager who said she was held captive in his home for three years.

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said Saturday that Steven Elliot Johnson had sex with the then-underage teenager.

Johnson’s mother, 54-year-old Owida Johnson, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of child endangerment.

Both are in St. Clair County Jail. Steven Johnson was being held on $2 million bond, his mother on $15,000 bond. No court date has been set and Kelly said no attorneys have been appointed.

Speaking to The Associated Press, Kelly wouldn’t comment on whether the charges back up the story the 19-year-old woman told police about being held against her will and conceiving a son during the first year she allegedly was at the Washington Park home.

The now-2-year-old boy was taken from the home by a police SWAT team Thursday.

Kelly said that there were unsafe and unsanitary conditions in the home, including exposed wiring, spoiled food in the refrigerator, animal feces in the house and insect and vermin activity.

He said the two counts of child endangerment involve two children, but would not say to whom the other child belonged.

Police say the teenager told them she met the suspect through someone else and that she visited his home around the time she was reported missing. The man later wouldn’t allow her to go back home to her parents, according to police.

According to the teen, the suspect’s mother helped detain her and helped falsify medical records, police say. The teen told investigators the man and his mother coerced her into using a false name when giving birth to conceal that she was underage, according to police.

The young woman has told police she repeatedly tried to escape the house, which is on Washington Park’s busiest street and next door to a convenience store, just a half mile from a freeway. But her captor chased her down each time and forced her back to the home at gunpoint, according to police.

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