Felons accused of luring children into van get electronic monitoring after judge, prosecutors mistakingly believe the charges aren’t detainable

CHICAGO — Two men accused of trying to lure children into a van where Cicero police allegedly found condoms, lubricant, and a mattress were not detained on the charges because prosecutors and the judge mistakenly believed attempted child abduction is not a detainable offense under Illinois’ cashless bail system.

Both men have been detained for other reasons, one for violating parole and the other for violating probation. However, if those holds are released, they will go home on electronic monitoring.

During an initial appearance at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse at 26th and California on Sunday, Assistant State’s Attorney Sarah Dale-Schmidt presented the state’s allegations against the men, Kenchi Edwards, 60, and 55-year-old Kraig McCauley.

She told Judge Susana Ortiz that McCauley stopped a van near three children playing in an alley on 18th Street in Cicero on Friday evening.

McCauley motioned for the children, both 14, to come over to the van and asked them if they wanted to get in, saying a “famous athlete” was in the back of the van and he had “games,” Dale-Schmidt alleged, according to an official court transcript. A surveillance video allegedly recorded the interaction.

The children, who were with a 13-year-old, did not get into the van, and McCauley drove away. One of the children told a parent about what happened, and the parent called the police.

Kraig McCauley, left, and Kenchi Edwards (Cook County sheriff’s office)

Cicero cops found the van nearby and pulled it over. They found McCauley sitting on a mattress placed on the base of the driver’s seat, Dale-Schmidt explained. She said Edwards was in the back of the van, trying to hide things in a bag.

Once the men were removed from the vehicle, police found a used crack pipe, “numerous condoms, lubricant and binoculars,” open cans of Twisted Tea alcohol, an open bottle of Ice House, and an open bottle of Buchanan’s Deluxe Whiskey, Dale-Schmidt stated.

Both men confirmed they spoke with the children about sports and joked about Edwards resembling a famous athlete, said Dale-Schmidt. It was the same famous athlete McCauley allegedly told the children was in the back of the van.

They are each charged with two counts of child luring by a person older than 21 and two counts of attempted child abduction.

“State,” Judge Ortiz asked Dale-Schmidt after hearing the allegations, “as to each defendant, these are detention eligible offenses, correct?”

“No, your honor,” replied Dale-Schmidt.

“We’re going to pass this case,” replied the judge.

The transcript does not say why Ortiz took the break. When she recalled the case, though, she appeared to have received information about the state’s detainable offenses.

This story is made possible by contributions to the Cook County Courtroom Transparency Fund.

“I want to note for the record that as to each of these defendants, child luring and attempted child abduction are not enumerated offenses on which the People can seek detention,” Ortiz stated. “I want to note that attempted animal cruelty is one where detention can be sought but not attempted child abduction, for whatever that’s worth, I want that to be reflected on the record.”

She proceeded to order both men to go on electronic monitoring and barred them from receiving “essential movement,” the 48 hours per week that electronic monitoring participants are allowed to leave their homes. She also ordered them to have no contact with the victims, the witness, or anyone under 18.

Separately, Ortiz detained Edwards, a three-time felon paroled in November on a narcotics charge, because the state lodged a hold on him while it reviews his parole status in light of the new allegations. 

She detained McCauley for violating the probation sentence he received upon pleading guilty to aggravated robbery on February 20.

CWBChicago contacted several sponsors of the SAFE-T Act and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office seeking input for this story.

“Child abduction and attempted child abduction are 100% detention eligible,” Rep. Kam Buckner (26th) said. “It’s both named in the statute, and even if it wasn’t, there’s a catch all that makes detention eligible for any felony that includes the threat or infliction of great bodily harm or disability or disfigurement.”

Another SAFE-T Act sponsor, Sen. Elgie Sims (17th), agreed. 

“The allegations are more than disturbing—these allegations are exactly the type of circumstances that would allow a person to be detained under the Pretrial Fairness Act,” Sims said in an emailed statement.”The statute is clear, attempted child abduction should lead to the detention of the accused.”

“I don’t know what this particular judge based their decision on, so I cannot comment on it. However, I do know that under the old cash bail system, a person charged with this crime would have a judge set a money bond amount and if the person paid it, they would have been released.”

Sims continued: “The facts show that overall the SAFE-T Act, including the Pretrial Fairness Act, is making significant strides in allowing Illinois to reimagine what public safety looks like in this state for the better.”

In an email, the state’s attorney’s office said, “We are unable to comment on pending litigation.”

Original reporting you’ll see nowhere else, paid for by our readers. Click here to support our work.

About Tim Hecke 378 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is tim@cwbchicago.com