Oak Forest man, 76, charged in Orange Line fondling, lewdness cases

Tribune reporter

A 76-year-old Oak Forest man arrested this week for masturbating on a CTA Orange Line train was linked by Chicago police to the fondling of a 15-year-old girl as she rode the same line earlier this month, Cook County prosecutors said today.

William Papagianis was charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse, a felony, and a misdemeanor count of public indecency stemming from both incidents, court records show.

As prosecutors detailed the charges against him, Papagianis interrupted several times with shouts of “Lies!” Later, he told Judge Donald Panarese that he used to own several restaurants and was good friends with George Halas, the Chicago Bears’ late owner.

“He and the Bears used to eat at my restaurants,” Papagianis said in a thick Greek accent.

Panarese set bond at $1 million.

Prosecutors said the 15-year-old victim was riding an Orange Line train with her sister on Jan. 8 when she felt someone touching her through her school uniform pants, Assistant State’s Attorney Joell Zahr said. The girl turned around, saw the defendant standing behind her and pushed him away, Zahr said.

Both girls got off at the next stop and notified police, but the train pulled away before the officers could board.

On Monday, Papagianis was arrested at the Roosevelt Road Orange Line stop after a 17-year-old girl accused him of masturbating in front of her, Zahr said. The earlier victim was contacted by police and identified Papagianis as the man who had fondled her, the prosecutor said.

Papagianis has a felony case of harassing a witness pending in the Cook County courthouse in Maywood, Zahr said. He had previous arrests for lewd conduct at a CVS pharmacy and Midway Airport, but both those cases were dismissed.

“I don’t know nothing about  it,” Papagianis said as Zahr detailed his background. “That’s a lie. Thank you.”

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