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Local umpire ruled threat, denied bond

Kevin Lilly

Kevin Lilly

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A judge on Tuesday declared a Gwinnett baseball umpire a danger to the community after he allegedly struck up an Internet romance with a 17-year-old Ohio girl and talked her into absconding.

Kevin Lilly, 44, was denied bond in Gwinnett Magistrate Court on felony charges of interference with custody. Lilly, a high school and college umpire who also worked at Medieval Times in Duluth, allegedly courted the teen in a Yahoo chatroom about a year ago.

The alleged victim's family claims Lilly manipulated their daughter, a recent high school graduate near Columbus, Ohio, for financial and sexual gain.

Since his March 16 arrest, Lilly has been estranged from his wife, with whom he has three sons, said his attorney, Rob Greenwald, in a probable cause hearing.

Greenwald argued the teen voluntarily accompanied Lilly to Gwinnett on March 8, after he'd driven to Ohio, and that police hadn't proven who had legal custody of her.

"I think it's a case that cries out for bond," Greenwald said.

Magistrate Judge Gene Cantrell disagreed, denying Lilly bond and binding all charges to Superior Court for indictment.

"I just don't know anything we can do to keep him in Georgia -- and from driving up there (to Ohio)," Cantrell said.

Cantrell granted $1,000 bond on a misdemeanor count of furnishing obscene materials to a minor. Those materials were electronic images of the pair having sex in a hotel room while Lilly secretly visited Ohio in January, according to the alleged victim's family and police testimony.

An Ohio woman who identified herself as the teen's mother said she'd hacked into the Yahoo account after the teen had disappeared earlier this month, finding the images. She took the pictures to Columbus police and drove 10 hours to Gwinnett -- blindly tracking a Buford Drive post office box address the teen had been mailing to, she said.

"We didn't know if she was being held against her will," she told the Post last week.

Police in Columbus, Ohio, alerted Gwinnett police that Lilly could be housing a runaway. After talking with Lilly's associates in Gwinnett, the teen's family told local police of Lilly's involvement with a Dacula-area baseball field.

Police arrested Lilly at the ballfield and took the teen into custody, before she was released to her parents, testified Gwinnett police Det. D.L. Brewster.

The teen was of legal age for consensual sex in Georgia, Brewster said.

The alleged victim's family said her discipline record was unblemished. Lilly's record is clean, save for a DUI in 1994, his attorney said.