St. Clair County prosecutors filed a slew of charges Saturday in the case of a young woman who claimed she was held captive for about three years in a Washington Park home, but none of the charges allege she was kidnapped or held against her will.
Prosecutors filed charges against Steven Elliot Johnson, 24, of 1425 N. Kingshighway in Washington Park, and against his mother, Owida Johnson.
Steven Elliot Johnson was charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, unlawful possession of cannabis with intent to deliver, unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon, promotion of prostitution and aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
Owida Johnson, 54, was charged with two counts of child endangerment.
Both Johnsons were taken into custody Thursday and still were being held Saturday at the Washington Park jail. Bail for Steven Johnson was set at $2 million, while Owida Johnson's bail was set at $15,000.
St.Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly announced the charges Saturday evening.
Washington Park Police Chief Dave Clark said, "These are only the preliminary charges. We are continuing the investigation and there could possibly be additional charges pending."
The 19-year-old female told police she escaped from the Johnson home after being held captive for three years.
The woman, 15 years old at the time that she went missing, told police she initially went with the suspect voluntarily, but after that he wouldn't allow her to leave. But relatives of the Johnsons have said the young woman made up the allegation of being held captive.
Clark said a toddler boy, who police stormed into the home to retrieve Thursday, was born to the young woman and the suspect.
Eric Johnson, the suspect's brother, said she was never held against her will and was always going to and from neighborhood stores and to her baby's pediatrician.
Eric Johnson said she and his brother argued frequently and that his brother had put her out of the house several times.
"She always came back," he said.
Eric Johnson said he is disappointed that police didn't make the girl take a polygraph test. He said he wants them to ask his brother to take a polygraph. "I guarantee he will say yes," he said.
Eric Johnson said the young woman attended family gatherings, and his mother allowed her to use the Internet and helped her to find her relatives, who she said she could not find on her own.
Eric Johnson said he once offered to take the young woman to a shelter, when she and his brother argued and she didn't want to go. He said he gave her a cellphone, which provided her another means of communication with whomever she would have wanted to talk.
She was free to leave and go as she pleased," he said. "My brother usually leaves for two to three days at a time. My mother normally worked from 11 a.m to 2 a.m., 3 a.m. If she wanted to leave she could have. She was there by herself with the 2-year-old boy."
Eric Johnson said his mother " took good care of that boy (the child). He didn't have to go hungry. He always ate. When they took him out of the house, he was clean and not dirty."
Eric Johnson said the young woman often went to the Misssissippi Grill, where both his mother and brother worked.
Courtney Johnson, who is the owner of Mississippi Grill and a relative of Owida Johnson, said the young woman sometimes came to the restaurant, looking for Steven Johnson.
"And when I paid him for the work he did, he would give her half the money. Nobody knew her to be who she really is. Even two months ago, when I was working on the restaurant, she was known as Chantay. She said she was 22 years old," Courtney Johnson said.
Contact reporter Carolyn P. Smith at 239-2503.