Police: Youth sports referee has ‘groomed’ a victim of sexual abuse for years

MASON – A Lansing youth sports umpire who has been “grooming” a teenage boy he sexually abused for many years, starting when the boy was in elementary school and moving on to high school, according to court records.

Gerald Allen Sutter tried to befriend the boy while the child was in elementary school in Ingham County, even suggesting that he tell his friends that Sutter was his grandfather, a detective testified at a hearing that led to charges.

While the boy was attending high school in Eaton County, Sutter “urged” him to have dinner with him and offered to “give him plenty of marijuana for free if he did things for him,” the detective testified.

“I asked (the alleged victim) what that was and Sutter told him he wanted to be friends with him and give him massages too,” Ingham County Sheriff Detective Amber Kenny-Hinojosa told a magistrate during the hearing. The alleged victim said it was clear the massages would be sexual in nature, and Sutter provided details in subsequent text messages, she said.

Sutter, 70, of Lansing Township, was charged Oct. 26 with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. A hearing to determine whether he should stand trial on the charges is scheduled for Nov. 15. Court records showed that Sutter intended to hire a lawyer, but did not name a lawyer.

Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth announced Sutter’s arrest at a news conference on Oct. 26 and called on other potential victims to come forward. was nicknamed “Dewey”.

On Thursday, four other people had come forward to say that Sutter had victimized them, and investigators received “countless” other tips about “grooming behavior,” sheriff-capt said. Andy Daenzer. The detectives are investigating and will forward their findings to prosecutors, he said.

The reported sexual assaults took place at Sutter’s home, apparently beginning in 2019 or 2020, according to the transcript of the hearing.

The reported victim said he had been there the first time after Sutter offered him $40, and on another occasion, Sutter offered him $300, the detective testified. The victim said Sutter was “a really big texter and would blow up his phone,” and described the referee as “an overprotective girlfriend,” Kenny-Hinojosa said.

The investigation started in September in an unusual way.

After another person called to report that he had been sexually assaulted in the late 1990s, the detective for another sheriff who was active in the sports world recognized Sutter’s name and recalled an incident where a student may have had Sutter had gone out to dinner. He also recalled Sutter bringing candy bars and gifts to student athletes, which he said was unusual.

That detective contacted a former teacher and coach, who remembered the name of the student who may have had dinner with Sutter, Kenny-Hinojosa testified.

When she contacted the alleged victim, he said, “Oh thank goodness – Gerry – did they finally get him?” she testified.

Sutter led school sports across the state, but worked most often in central Michigan, Wriggelsworth said Oct. 26. He led boys’ and girls’ athletics from early childhood through college, the sheriff said.

Officials are setting up a phone line and email address to collect information from anyone willing to provide information about Sutter. The phone number is 517-676-8440. The email address is [email protected]

“We want to ensure that anyone who is willing to come forward and provide information will be treated with dignity and respect,” Wriggelsworth said, announcing the indictment.

Contact Ken Palmer at: [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @KBPalm_lsj.

This article originally appeared in Lansing State Journal: Police: Referee Gerald Sutter ‘Groomed’ Sexual Assault Victim for Years

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