Washington Park, Ill. man Steven Elliot Johnson, 25, was arrested and on August 18, 2012, charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse after a teenager went to police claiming that she had been held captive as a sex slaves in Johnson’s house for three years. According to the victim, now 19, she met Johnson through a mutual acquaintance, visited him at his home in April 2010, and was never allowed to leave. She claims to have been subjected to daily beatings and rape, and to having given birth to her tormentor’s child. In addition she said Johnson’s mother, Owida Johnson, 54, conspired to keep her prisoner. On investigation, police found unsanitary and unsafe conditions in the home, specifically, spoiled food in the refrigerator, animal feces, insects, vermin and exposed wiring. SWAT removed two children from the house. Johnson’s mother was arrested on two misdemeanor counts of child endangerment and held on a $15,000 bond.
Johnson’s family disputes the charges against him, and the unnamed young woman’s allegations. According to the suspect’s brother, Eric Johnson, the teen was tossed out of the house by Johnson on several occasions, and frequently left the house on her own, but always returned of her own free will. The teen states that she ran away many times, but was chased down and forced to return at gunpoint by Steven Johnson. Several reports make it clear that the house, which is next door to a convenience store, is on the neighborhood’s busiest street, and is located just a half mile from the highway. The implication being that help was near at hand if the teen had really needed it. It is common, howver, for sex slaves to be so physically and pyscholoigically dominated by their captors that they fear that no one would help them or believe their story.
Johnson faces and additional charge of felony promotion of prostitution, two felony drug charges and a felony gun charge. He is in the St. Claire County Jail; bond has been set at $2 million.