INGHAM COUNTY, Mich. (WLNS) — A Lansing-area youth sports referee was arrested Tuesday on three charges of criminal sexual misconduct with a minor.
Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth said information recently came in that a well-known youth sports ref, mostly for baseball and softball, was preying on young athletes, and they immediately started investigating.
Gerald Allen Sutter, a 70-year-old man who lives in Lansing Township, has been arrested and arraigned for criminal sexual misconduct with a minor from 2019-2021. The victim was a teen at the time.
Sutter has been using his role as a referee to prey on victims, said Wriggelsworth.
During the initial investigation, arrest, and execution of a search warrant at Sutter’s home, Wriggelsworth said they found information that there could be numerous other victims from around the community.
“If so, this case could span several decades,” Wriggelsworth said.
Sutter has been a ref in multiple sports for both girls and boys, spanning early childhood sports all the way through college athletics, over the past 50 years. He has traveled all over the state refereeing, but primarily was in the mid-Michigan area.
“Anyone that has played or has children who have played sports in this area likely has had games officiated by Sutter,” Wriggelsworth said.
Right now there is one known victim but the sheriff’s office has made some preliminary contact with some other potential victims.
Wriggelsworth said communities place their trust in coaches and referees, and it appears in this case Sutter was using his role to groom victims.
“Absolutely horrible conduct on his part,” Wriggelsworth said.
Sutter was trying to befriend young male victims and showered them with gifts and attention to start building a relationship, all with the intent of potentially grooming them for ‘nefarious acts.’
The sheriff’s office has established a phone line just for this case, the number is 517-676-8440. They asked any victims or people with pertinent information to call the number.