Talk about a bad call, a Michigan High School referee who had been doing the job for 50 years has been charged for allegedly sexually assaulting a young player, and there could be more.

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Michigan Referee Requirements

Referee Wearing Whistle
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To be a referee in the state of Michigan, a candidate must first complete the Officials Guidebook exam and get no less than a 70% score. This is a course that can be taken online.

whistle of a referee
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Depending upon the sport a candidate will be required to complete a mechanics exam to demonstrate their abilities during game action.

American football referee on field, rear view
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Background checks are done periodically by youth sports organizations to make sure adults who are refereeing youth sports have a clean background.

Michigan Referee of 50 Years Charged With Sexual Assault of Youth Player

Ingham County Sheriff's Office
Ingham County Sheriff's Office
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The veteran referee's name is Gerald Sutter, 70. Sutter has officiated football, basketball, baseball, softball, and volleyball games for mid-Michigan high schools and colleges.

WXYZ-TV Detroit Channel 7 YouTube Channel
WXYZ-TV Detroit Channel 7 YouTube Channel
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Sutter allegedly groomed a 16-year-old player between 2019 and 2021 by giving the youth attention, friendship, and gifts.

WXYZ-TV Detroit Channel 7 YouTube Channel
WXYZ-TV Detroit Channel 7 YouTube Channel
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Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wrigglesworth says the department received a tip that led to searching Sutter's Lansing Township home. The evidence collected led investigators to believe there may be more victims.

WXYZ-TV Detroit Channel 7 YouTube Channel
WXYZ-TV Detroit Channel 7 YouTube Channel
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According to WXYZ, Gary Kanan is a former MHSAA Official who used to work with Sutter and was shocked to hear of the charges made against him. Kanan talked about how a lot of other officials didn't like working with Sutter because of some off-color behavior as a referee. Kanan spoke of Sutter getting himself into trouble but it was never anything that improper that was directed at the players.

Sutter was often given background checks and they always came back clean throughout his 50 years as a referee.

WXYZ-TV Detroit Channel 7 YouTube Channel
WXYZ-TV Detroit Channel 7 YouTube Channel
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Investigators already have evidence that Sutter may have groomed other players in his five decades as a referee.  The Ingham County Sheriff's Department has put together a tip line just for this case so if you or someone you know has any additional information regarding Sutter you are urged to contact them at 517.676.8440.

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