A Michigan youth sports referee was arrested on Tuesday after authorities say that he sexually abused a teenage athlete — and authorities allege that he has historically used his position to prey on other victims.
PEOPLE confirms that Gerald Allen “Dewey” Sutter, 70, has been charged with three counts of criminal sexual misconduct with a minor. According to an arrest affidavit obtained by WLNS-TV, the incidents happened from 2019 a 2021. The alleged victim was a teenager at the time.
Sutter, from Lincoln Township, was a well-known youth sports referee in the area, most prominently for baseball and softball.
Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth tells WLNS that they believe that Sutter has been using his role as a referee to prey on teens.
Wriggelsworth tells the station that officers executed a search warrant at Sutter’s home and found information that indicates that there may be many more victims. Authorities have not released the nature of the evidence they collected.
In a press release obtained by ClickOnDetroit.com, authorities say that Sutter was active in youth sports and had nearly 50 years of contact with children.
“Anyone who has played or had children who have played sports in this area likely had games officiated by Sutter,” il rilascio dice. “We want to assure any person willing to come forward to provide information will be treated with dignity and respect. This investigation will be thorough and objective in our pursuit of justice.”
There is currently one alleged victim, but the sheriff’s office says that they have made “preliminary contact” with some other potential victims.
Wriggelsworth tells WLNS that Sutter befriended young male victims and showered them with gifts and attention in an attempt to groom them for sexual contact. “It’s absolutely horrible conduct on his part,” Wriggelsworth tells the station.
Sutter has not yet entered a plea and bond has not yet been set. Online court records do not reflect an attorney authorized to speak on his behalf.
The sheriff’s office urges anyone with relevant information to call 517-676-8440.