Monk, Thomas Chmura pleads not guilty in attempted abduction case

MILWAUKEE/ANTIOCH (WITI) -- A Wisconsin monk charged with trying to abduct a 14-year-old girl in Antioch, Illinois has pleaded not guilty in the case.

57-year-old Thomas Chmura appeared in court on Tuesday, May 14th to enter the plea. He is scheduled to be in court for a pre-trial hearing and bond review on May 23rd. The jury trial is set to begin on May 31st.

Chmura had his bail raised earlier this month, when he attempted to pay it. A judge then tripled it and ordered him back into custody.

Prosecutors say the reason for that is because there is a children's facility where Chmura works at Saint Benedict's Abbey in Kenosha County.

Police Chmura on April 26th after seeing him stop his car in the middle of traffic to talk to three women on the sidewalk.

Police say Chmura was driving next to the girl the night before, when he asked her to get into his car. After his arrest, officers say Chmura admitted he approached the girl for purposes of sexual gratification.

Tayia Watson says she is good friends with the victim, who came to her right after the attempted abduction.

"She came to my house and she told me that some guy that she saw pass her like three or four times a day or two before tried hitting on her. She was like 'well he finally came up to me and asked me to take me home' and she's like 'oh you look really pretty today, you want me to take you home baby,'" Watson said.

Now, Chmura has been charged with one count of child abduction (attempted) -- a Class 4 Felony, and one count of disorderly conduct.

Chmura, a member of the Benedictine religious order, resides at St. Benedict’s Abbey in Benet Lake, Wisconsin.  The abbey, located within the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, runs a retreat center that also offers its services to Catholics in the Archdiocese of Chicago due to its proximity to the state of Illinois.  The order states that the retreat house has “been the site for many individuals and groups to find a path closer to God”.

SNAP, the Survivor's Network of Those Abused by Priests is reacting to charges filed against Chmura.

SNAP has urged the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki to release all documents related to clergy officials' alleged sexual abuse of children -- and Chmura's arrest has reignited that drive.