Man charged in case of teen allegedly held captive

Members of the Madison County tactical response team take a two-year-old child to a waiting ambulance Thursday evening, Aug. 23, 2012 in Washington Park, Ill. The child was rescued after a teenage girl reported missing more than two years ago escaped from a home and went to police, saying her child was still in the house. The girl reported that she was raped by her captor, got pregnant and had a baby, police said.
J.B. Forbes,AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

(AP) 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.

Teen held for years in Ill. home knew her captor socially, police say

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.

Steven Johnson faces a separate felony charge of promotion of prostitution. Kelly would not say if that was related to the teenager.

Johnson also faces two felony drug charges and a felony gun charge. Combined, his charges would bring a maximum sentence of 30 years.

Kelly would not comment on the possibility of other charges, saying only that the investigation is ongoing.

Washington Park is a village of 4,200 people tucked on the edge of East St. Louis in one of Illinois' poorest regions. Known for its strip clubs and poverty, the community has grappled for years with corruption and violent crime punctuated by the 2010 shooting death of the village's mayor, John Thornton.

The village twice has filed for bankruptcy since 2004, the last time in 2009.