LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Former Lansing-area youth sports referee Gerald Sutter has been sentenced to up to 30 years behind bars for criminal sexual conduct with minors.

Sutter was arrested in October 2022. On Monday this week, dozens of people sat in the courtroom to watch him learn his fate.

Victims and their parents made statements in Ingham County Circuit Court, describing how they said Sutter used his role as a referee to prey on his victims.

Sutter, who was 70 at the time of his arrest, was arraigned for criminal sexual conduct with a minor. The sexual activity took place from 2019-2021. He’s been sentenced to a maximum of three decades in prison, with a minimum of 10 years before he can be considered for parole.

Over the course of 50 years Sutter was a referee in multiple sports and traveled around Michigan, but did most of his work in the mid-Michigan area.

Victims who gave their statements today said this is just a fraction of the consequences Sutter should receive for what he has done to them.

“Gerald used my unfortunate, emotional, and financial situation of abandonment to coerce and manipulate me into a secret relationship of control and abuse,” said one victim said who did not want to be on camera. “These crimes have stolen my sense of self-worth and left me feeling broken.”

Judge Joyce Draganchuk made the decision on Sutter’s sentencing after hearing the victim’s statements. Draganchuk’s statement was as follows:

“You are indeed despicable to prey on other people who are vulnerable, and what’s evident to me is that the victims in this case, or the victims that extend beyond this case, all had unique vulnerabilities in one way or another and instead of reaching out a hand to them to help in their time of vulnerability, you used that as your own opportunity to take advantage of them, to abuse them, and to sexually molest them in ways that have obviously impacted their lives in indescribable ways.” -Judge Joyce Draganchuk, Ingham County Circuit Court

Ingham County Sheriff’s Office established a dedicated phone line for the case, which led numerous others to come forward.