The Chicago Heights Park District police chief has been charged with sharing sexually explicit images of women without their consent, prosecutors said.
Christian Daigre, 40, of Dyer, Indiana, was charged Wednesday with two felony counts of non-consensual dissemination of sexual images, two counts of intimidation and one count of drug possession.
Two women, ages 24 and 43, allege they met Daigre through online dating sites and had consensual sexual encounters with him in early 2016 that he secretly filmed with a camera near the ceiling of his South Loop studio apartment, according to prosecutors. Daigre then allegedly sent sexually explicit still images of the women via text message to another person without the women’s consent, prosecutors allege.
The women notified police earlier this month after learning of the existence and dissemination of the images, prosecutors said. Daigre is the registered owner of the phone number used to send the images and has used that number for several years, according to prosecutors.
Both the person to whom Daigre allegedly sent the explicit text messages in 2016 and one of the female victims received threatening text messages from an unknown number shortly after Chicago police opened its investigation into Daigre, prosecutors said.
The messages threatened violence against the cooperating witness and his family and stated that if the female victim didn’t drop her charges she should expect a lawsuit, “or worse,” according to prosecutors.
Phone records show the number used to send the threatening messages was registered to Christian Smith, a pseudonym Daigre has used in the past on Facebook and on dating websites, prosecutors alleged.
When police executed a search warrant at Daigre’s South Loop apartment on Tuesday, they found a small envelope and a small bag that both contained suspected cocaine, prosecutors said.
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi announced Daigre’s arrest Wednesday on Twitter, calling the allegations “egregious” and, if proven, “a disgraceful abuse of power & trust from police & community.”
Daigre’s attorney Todd Pugh said his client denied all of the allegations.
He described Daigre as a married family man who served on his local parent-teacher association, played on the Chicago Police Department football team and owned his own private security firm.
Pugh told the judge his client had been set up by the cooperating witness, who he identified as former Chicago Heights Park District Police Chief Jose Maldonado.
Pugh claimed Maldonado, who was suspended from the department in 2016 following a DUI arrest, was out to get Daigre, his successor.
“(Daigre) didn’t have any bad blood with him, but he didn’t think that (he) supported him, maybe, to the level that (he) should have,” Pugh said of Maldonado.
Pugh also claimed Daigre was a key witness against Maldonado in a separate, more recent criminal case in which Maldonado is accused of falsely claiming to be the Chicago Heights Park District police chief.
Court records show Maldonado was indicted earlier this month for false personation of a peace officer after “knowingly and falsely” representing himself as the Chicago Heights Park District police chief in August, while Daigre was the department’s acting chief.
Pugh said Maldonado’s “vendetta” against Daigre led him and his attorney to concoct the story about Daigre spreading sexual images of women without their consent.
Maldonado’s attorney Frank Avila called Pugh’s claims “utterly ridiculous” and said his client had notified police of Daigre’s alleged crimes before he was indicted on the false personation charges.
A judge on Wednesday set Daigre’s bail at $25,000 and forbid him from having any contact with Maldonado and the victims. Prosecutors asked that he be placed on electronic monitoring and surrender all firearms, but the judge continued the request, saying she didn’t want to interfere with his employment. Daigre was expected to bond out late Wednesday afternoon, officials said.
Chicago Heights Park District superintendent Frank Perez said the park district placed Daigre on paid administrative leave Oct. 10, once the criminal investigation came to light, and initiated their own investigation into his conduct. He said they also notified Chicago Heights police, which opened its own investigation into Daigre.
Perez, who declined comment on the investigation into Daigre’s alleged misconduct, said Deputy Chief Darryl Stroud had been running the eight-member Chicago Heights Park District Police Department in Daigre’s absence.
Prior to being hired by the Chicago Heights Park District police in 2015, Daigre worked in the Robbins, Harvey, Dolton, Ford Heights and Sauk Village police departments, records show. Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board records show that both Harvey and Robbins terminated him.