A homeless 34-year-old man lured a 3-year-old girl into a bathroom stall at the River North McDonald’s and sexually assaulted her, Cook County prosecutors said Thursday.
Christopher Puente motioned to the toddler from a bathroom stall in the iconic fast food outlet Monday morning, luring her as her father helped the girl’s brother use the toilet in an adjacent stall, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said during a bond hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.
Hearing the girl crying, and seeing her legs dangling from under the stall door, the girl’s father tried to pull open the locked stall door, and eventually pulled the girl under the door. The man rushed to take both children to their mother, then went back to the bathroom and saw Puente still locked in the stall, prosecutors said. The man went back to check on his children, and when he returned to the bathroom, Puente was gone.
Puente was arrested the next day for trespassing at a parking garage a few blocks from the McDonald’s, and was identified as the girl’s attacker by police, who recognized him from a still photo of surveillance footage from the restaurant, at 600 N. Clark St. The footage also showed Puente wearing the same clothes he wore during the attack and when he was arrested Tuesday, Murphy said.
Surveillance video from the restaurant also captured Puente, the father and his two children entering and exiting the bathroom, Murphy said.
Puente has a lengthy criminal record, having served several stints in prison for theft and burglary. He currently faces a misdemeanor battery charges for allegedly touching a woman inappropriately and then shoving her while downtown, Murphy said.
Puente confessed to police after his arrest, Murphy said, telling detectives that he pulled off the girl’s pants and underwear and sat her on his lap.
“He said that the victim called out ‘Daddy, daddy,’” and so he covered the girl’s mouth, Murphy said. “[Puente] said he was f——ked up and thinking dirty. ... He said he was paranoid and looking around as he left the bathroom because he knew what he did was wrong.”
Assistant Public Defender Scott Finger said Puente is homeless and sometimes stays at a shelter.
Judge Susana Ortiz ordered Puente held without bail for predatory criminal sexual assault. Puente, who is hearing impaired, seemed stunned as a sign language interpreter translated the judge’s order.
“You don’t understand. This is my first time,” Puente said, signing rapidly until Finger told him to stop.