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Bronzeville man charged in 2 separate sexual assaults on Near North Side

The Leighton criminal courthouse at 26th and California where Judge Mauricio Araujo was assigned until last year when he was accused of sexual harassment. | Sun-Times file photo.

A Bronzeville man was ordered held in lieu of posting $20,000 bond Wednesday after he was charged in two separate sexual assaults on the Near North Side.

Rene Chandler, 29, faces one count of aggravated criminal sexual assault in an alleged attack on Wednesday in the Near North neighborhood, and one count of criminal sexual assault in an alleged attack in the Gold Coast neighborhood, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and Chicago police.

Judge Sophia Atcherson set Chandler’s bail at $100,000 in each case during a hearing Wednesday at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

The Near North neighborhood attack happened Thursday at a condo building near LaSalle Street and Chicago Avenue, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Daniel Crone and police records.

Rene Chandler | Chicago police
Rene Chandler | Chicago police

Chandler met the 26-year-old woman in the building and had a drink with her on the rooftop, Crone said in court. About 2:30 a.m., he walked off and later texted her to come to one of the apartments in the building. Inside the apartment, he began to touch her and she told him to stop.

Chandler continued to touch her and eventually threw her onto a couch in the living room and sexually assaulted her as she repeatedly told him “no,” Crone said. When she managed to get away, she confronted him about the assault, but he didn’t say anything in return.

The woman reported the assault to the building’s management and police were called, Crone said. She was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Chandler is also accused of a similar attack of a 22-year-old woman on April 21, Crone said. In that incident, the woman met Chandler on Instagram and she agreed to meet him in person. At an apartment, he began to touch and kiss her and she told him to stop and tried to walk away. Chandler allegedly took her phone and purse and threw them across the room.

Chandler grabbed the woman and sexually assaulted her as she cried out and kicked, Crone said. She managed to hit his face with her knee, causing Chandler to bleed. He then became angry and slapped, punched and kicked her repeatedly. She managed to leave the apartment but was followed by Chandler into an elevator, where he continued to hit her until she ran outside and got sought help from passersby.

Officers responded about 3 a.m. to the 300 block of North Ontario and was initially described as a response to a strong-arm robbery, according to police. After officers helped the woman retrieve her possessions from the apartment, she took herself to West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, where she was given a sexual assault examination, Crone said. She positively identified Chandler in a photo array.

He was taken into custody Sunday at the condo building where the most recent assault was alleged to have occurred, according to police records. Prosecutors said Chandler lived at the buidling, but police records indicated he lived in Bronzeville. A police report for one of the assaults listed a friend of Chandler as the resident of the condo.

Chandler is a lifelong resident of Chicago and his father was a pastor in the city, his attorney, Stephon Wilson, said in court. Chandler could afford to post up to $10,000 bond, Wilson said.

Atcherson said she didn’t think $10,000 to be a sufficient amount of bond to ensure Chandler would show up for his court and set his bail at $100,000 in each case.

Pastor Rene Chandler, the founder and head pastor of Walking By Faith Ministries at 10359 S. King Drive in the Far South Side Roseland neighborhood, confirmed Chandler was his son when the Sun-Times reached him by phone Wednesday.

Pastor Chandler said he was aware his son had been arrested, but was not aware of the charges. He said it had been “some time” since he last saw his son, but declined to comment further, stating he didn’t have enough information about the case.