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Cook County’s Leighton Criminal Court building. | Sun-Times files

Son of Illinois state senator charged with sex assault for second time

SHARE Son of Illinois state senator charged with sex assault for second time
SHARE Son of Illinois state senator charged with sex assault for second time

The 40-year-old son of an Illinois state senator has been charged with sexually assaulting a woman as she slept in June — while he was out on bail in a another sex assault case.

Kenwahn Van Pelt, the son of Sen. Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago), was at a hearing Friday at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on a charge of criminal sexual assault in which he is accused of raping a sleeping woman at his Gresham home.

At the time, Van Pelt also was facing charges of criminal sexual assault and criminal sexual abuse in a second case, accused of assaulting one woman and abusing another in a Matteson hotel room in February 2017, according to court records.

Kenwahn Van Pelt. | Chicago police

Kenwahn Van Pelt. | Chicago police

Van Pelt was identified in a report by ABC7 in March 2017 as the senator’s son when he appeared for a bail hearing on the earlier charges.

Reached for comment Friday, Sen. Van Pelt would not confirm Kenwahn is her son. She said “thank you” and hung up. Subsequent attempts to reach her were unsuccessful, and a spokeswoman for the senator did not respond to requests for comment.

In the most recent case, a 29-year-old woman reached out to Kenwahn Van Pelt, who works as a club promoter, through social media when she was looking for job opportunities, Assistant State’s Attorney Jamison Berger said in court Friday.

Van Pelt met the woman on June 26 at Club O, 17038 S. Halsted St. in south suburban Harvey, for a club promotion, Berger said. The woman drank at the club and Van Pelt later drove her and another woman to his apartment in Gresham.

At the apartment, Van Pelt had consensual sex with the other woman in his bedroom, and the 29-year-old fell asleep in the living room, Berger said. According to the prosecutor, the woman woke later to find Van Pelt sexually assaulting her and ran into a bathroom. Van Pelt then left, and she called someone to come pick her up, was taken to a hospital.

Van Pelt surrendered to detectives on Wednesday after learning he was the subject of an investigative alert, Berger said.

In the earlier incident, Van Pelt is accused of giving alcohol to two 22-year-old women at a club and taking them to a hotel room. After falling asleep, one woman woke up to find Van Pelt touching her sexually and told him to stop, and the other woman woke up later as Van Pelt was sexually assaulting her, officials said.

Van Pelt was charged with sexual assault and sexual abuse and released on a $100,000 personal recognizance bond at a March 2, 2017, hearing, according to court records.He pleaded not guilty.

On Friday, Van Pelt’s attorney Camilo Oceguera asked Judge John F. Lyke to set a reasonable bail in the new case, saying Van Pelt came from a “prominent family” with longtime ties to the city, was working and had several children.

Sen. Patricia Van Pelt was elected in 2012. Her district encompasses much of the West Side.

Oceguera also said the two women in the most recent case were sisters, which led to a combative back-and-forth with Lyke.

“How is that mitigating?” the judge asked. “That’s aggravating.”

“Possibly there are some issues there,” Oceguera replied.

“You still haven’t answered my question,” Lyke said. “Are you saying they set him up?”

“Yes, judge, I’m saying the second act may have been consensual as well,” Oceguera said.

Prosecutors had earlier asked for Lyke to revoke Van Pelt’s bail on the 2017 case, a request the judge granted.

“He got a huge kiss on that one,” Lyke said of Van Pelt’s previous release on an I-bond. “And he’s right back here with similar charges.”

Lyke also denied Van Pelt bail on the new charges.

“The aggravation in this case trumps the mitigation by a trillion,” Lyke said.

Editor’s note: Court records show a Cook County judge later found Van Pelt not guilty in one case, while prosecutors dropped charges in the second case.

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