Youth referee, coach arrested for sexual assault of minor

The assaults occurred between 2019 and 2021.
The assaults occurred between 2019 and 2021.
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 12:38 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 26, 2022 at 3:47 PM EDT
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MASON, Mich. (WILX) - The Ingham County Sheriff’s Office and Lansing Township Police Department have announced the arrest of a 70-year-old man in connection with a sexual assault investigation.

Tuesday, the two departments arrested Gerald Allen Sutter of Lansing Township on three counts of criminal sexual conduct. The victim was a 16-year-old male.

The assaults occurred between 2019 and 2021 at Sutter’s home.

Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth said information was recently received by his office that a “well-known” athletic official for youth sports was preying on young athletes.

“We immediately started to investigate these allegations, which has led us to this point,” Sheriff Wriggelsworth said. “During the initial investigation, arrest, and execution of a search warrant, at Sutter’s home, evidence and information gathered lead us to believe there’s a potential for numerous other victims in or around our community.”

According to Sheriff Wriggelsworth, Sutter was a multi-sport official for both male and female athletes for decades as both a referee and a coach. Sutter also went by the name Jerry, and his nickname was “Dewey.” The Sheriff’s Office says over the past 50 years, Sutter has traveled all over the state, officiating athletics but primarily worked in the mid-Michigan area.

“It appears he was trying to befriend primarily young, male victims and then shower them with gifts and attention, and other things like that to start building a relationship, all with the intent of potentially grooming them for nefarious acts,” Sheriff Wriggelsworthsaid.

There is an established phone line specifically for the investigation: 517-676-8440. There is also an email hotline:

“We want to assure that any person willing to come forward and provide information will be treated with dignity and respect,” Sheriff Wriggelsworthsaid. “This investigation will be throughout and objective in our pursuit of justice. Our professionals understand the trauma, sensitivity, and reluctance associated with cases like this.”

The Sheriff’s Office believes Sutter was involved in sports from youth levels into college levels.

“We, as parents, place our trust in both coaches and referees, and it appears, in this case, unfortunately, Mr. Sutter was using that role to groom his victims,” Wriggelsworthsaid. “It’s just absolutely horrible conduct on his part to use his role as a mentor to engage in these types of acts.”

“We became aware of this investigation a couple of weeks ago and joined the Sheriff in the investigation, and participated in the execution of the search warrant, said Lansing Township Police Chief John Joseph, who confirmed that Sutter does live in Lansing Township.

“I’d like to reiterate what the Sheriff said: If there are any residents out there to contact us, make use of the phone number and email,” Chief Joseph said. “We’ll treat everyone with the utmost respect. The goal is to get to the bottom of this.”

Sutter was arraigned Wednesday on the following three charges:

  • One count of Criminal Sexual Conduct - 1st degree
  • Two counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct - 3rd degree

He was remanded to the custody of the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office.

This is an ongoing investigation and News 10 will update this story as more information is made available.

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