Prophetstown child abuser facing new child sex assault charge

Gage accused in Lee County of assaulting 10-year-old; assault charges against 14-year-old already pending

Robert J. Gage, June 2023

DIXON – A convicted child abuser from Prophetstown, already accused in Lee County of sexually assaulting a physically disabled 14-year-old girl, also has been indicted there on a charge of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl.

Robert J. “RJ” Gage, 27, was indicted May 19 on one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse; investigators say he fondled the 10 year-old in February 2021.

He faces three to seven years in prison if convicted.

Gage, who was convicted in Whiteside County of a violent assault on a baby in 2017, also sexually assaulted the 14-year-old multiple times from winter 2021 to spring 2022, while her parents and siblings slept nearby, investigators say.

He is charged in that case with aggravated criminal sexual assault of a disabled child, which is punishable by at least six to 30 years in prison; aggravated sexual abuse of a child 13 to 17 with the use of force, punishable by four to 15 years; and aggravated sexual abuse of a child 13 to 17, punishable by three to seven years.

If convicted of the third charge, however, the term would match a five-year battery of a child sentence levied in Whiteside County, court records show.

In that case, Gage was convicted of slamming a 1-month-old child against a wall on April 12, 2017, causing the baby to lose consciousness.

He was charged with aggravated battery of a child younger than 13, punishable by six to 30 years, and two other felonies; he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of aggravated battery and in addition to the five-year sentence was required to register as a violent offender against youth.

In his third ongoing felony case in Lee County, however, Gage is is charged with failing to register.

He was arrested March 26, 2022, and faces two to five years if convicted. He has a pretrial hearing in all three cases on Aug. 10.

He was on parole for the child battery and living in Nelson when the two girls were assaulted, according to the charging documents.

According to the Illinois Department of Corrections, Gage was paroled July 13, 2021, from Sheridan Correctional Center, where he was serving two concurrent, five-year terms for the child battery and for burglary in Whiteside County.

His parole could be revoked and the five-year sentence reimposed if he is convicted of any of the above charges.

Gage has been in Lee County jail since his arrest; his bail is set at $500,000.

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Kathleen Schultz

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.