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Convicted rapist is accused of raping 14-year-old Kansas girl who dreamed of career in music

  • The Kansas City Star
  • Published Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, at 9:45 p.m.
  • Updated Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, at 6:55 a.m.

Robert Gene Lile sold the hope of music stardom.

But for one 14-year-old girl from Topeka, say Tennessee authorities, a dream trip to Nashville this month became a nightmare of betrayal and sexual assault.

Lile, who was released from prison in 2003 after serving 20 years for raping a teen in Johnson County, is now charged with raping the aspiring singer at knifepoint last weekend after he had traveled there with her for an audition.

He was arrested Monday at a relative’s house in Bates County, Mo., and is being held in the county jail while Tennessee authorities prepare extradition paperwork. Court records list an address for Lile in Louisburg, Kan.

No attorney for Lile is listed in court records.

Joey Glenn, another area musician, said she met Lile and the girl from Topeka last July when she and Lile judged a music competition in Paola, Kan., in which the girl performed.

After the competition, Lile began trying to convince Glenn that he could help her career.

“He promised me he would take me to Nashville and get a big record deal,” Glenn said. “He knew all the right things to say.”

Lile, 55, claimed to have connections with a major record label, she said, and seemed to have knowledge of the music business.

“He had,” she said, “an answer for every question.”

Another area musician, Adam Johnson, echoed Glenn’s concerns about Lile, whom he knew through a radio station in Paola.

“He represented himself saying he was from Warner Brothers and stuff,” said Johnson, who did an Internet search for names that Lile had mentioned and found nothing. “That was the first thing that made me think it was a con.”

The 25-year-old Glenn, a 12-year veteran of the music business, was intrigued with Lile. She had him meet with members of her family and management team to explain the opportunity.

Lile made one stipulation.

He and Glenn would have to make the trip to Nashville alone.

That was a deal breaker.

“I don’t travel alone,” she said.

After that, Lile’s phone calls and texts to her became less and less frequent.

Eventually, he contacted her and said he had sent her demo tape to record company executives, but they were no longer interested in her.

The July competition in Paola was hosted by radio station KWJP.

The station’s general manager, Nick Marchi, said Lile was asked to judge the competition because he was managing a local band, had promoted concerts in the area and said he had a music background.

As he had told Glenn and Johnson, Lile boasted to Marchi of major record label connections.

“We had no reason to believe otherwise,” Marchi said.

During the competition though, Marchi said, Lile did a “couple of things that bothered me.”

He stopped the competition at one point, gathered all of the performers around and basically solicited them to hire him as a manager.

Marchi said Lile was told that was not the proper place for that.

Afterward, he said, “we basically severed ties with him.”

Johnson said his band was originally scheduled to go to Nashville along with the band that the alleged rape victim performed with. Both groups were supposed to appear before record industry representatives in a showcase.

“He (Lile) basically made it sound like Warner Brothers was putting on this showcase, which we found out prior to going down there was not accurate,” Johnson said.

He said Lile dissuaded his band from making the trip, warning that one of its members would cause them all to be red-flagged as undesirable to record labels.

But a former member of Johnson’s band did go, because he had become the drummer for the band of the alleged victim.

Johnson said his former bandmate told him that they and the girl went ahead and performed at the showcase after the alleged rape.

People who knew Lile in the local music business said they had no inkling of his criminal past.

A Johnson County jury convicted Lile of aggravated kidnapping, rape and aggravated sodomy in a case involving a teenage girl. He was sentenced in 1983 to life in prison.

While in prison in 1994, when Lile entered the prison’s sex offender treatment program, he refused to provide officials with details of his sex crimes and history, a program requirement. His refusal led to his placement in maximum security and a loss of television, recreational and visitation privileges.

Lile sued, and his

case ultimately went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 2002 in favor of the state.

In the 5-4 ruling, the court noted that the Kansas treatment program “represents a sensible approach to reducing the serious danger that repeat sex offenders pose to many innocent persons, most often children.”

Even though he failed to complete sex offender treatment, Lile was paroled from his life sentence in May 2003, according to Kansas Department of Corrections records.

According to Nashville police, the alleged assault occurred Saturday.

A police press release described Lile as the girl’s manager and stated that they traveled to Nashville so she could perform in a “talent showcase.”

They were at a hotel Saturday night when Lile allegedly “pulled a knife and repeatedly raped the teen over a period of hours after threatening to kill her.”

Early Sunday morning, according to police, he allegedly ordered the girl into his car where he continued to assault her as he drove through Nashville and surrounding areas.

After returning to the hotel, Lile packed and left, leaving the girl behind, according to police.

Glenn said she was devastated to hear of the allegations, and thankful that she had support from people who warned her away from making the trip with Lile.

“My heart goes out to the young lady and her parents,” she said. “That could have been me.”

To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or email trizzo@kcstar.com.

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