Youth softball program founder arrested on sexual assault charge

Posted at 11:33 AM, Mar 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-22 09:36:58-04

Thomas Barnes Galloway (Photo from the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department)

SPRING LAKE TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- The Ottawa County Sheriff's Department said a coach and board member of a West Michigan youth softball program has been arrested for first-degree criminal sexual assault.

Thomas Barnes Galloway, 44, of Spring Lake Township, was arrested Monday morning on a charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct against a former player, the sheriff's department said.

He was arraigned early Tuesday in district court, on a charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The charge is a felony that carries a penalty of up to life in prison.

The alleged assault happened in June 2012.  The sheriff's department said Galloway is accused of giving the then 13-year-old victim marijuana, alcohol and possibly narcotics before sexually assaulting her.

Galloway is a now former board member and softball coach of the Michigan Sabercats fast pitch softball travel program, which involves girls between the ages of 8 and 18.  He has since resigned from the organization, according to a statement posted Monday on the Sabercats' website, which reads as follows:

"The recent news concerning a prominent member of our organization most likely came as both shocking and appalling.  While we understand the situation remains in the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ phase, it is important to know what our organization has done internally.

Immediately upon learning of the allegations, we formed an emergency committee which acted promptly and swiftly leading to the mutual parting ways with the accused. This includes removing him from his current coaching and board positions in addition to extracting all of his likeness from our website and social media accounts. Based on his resignation, this is a permanent action at this time.

This emergency committee remains in place with the priority to protect and educate the players in absolute hopes of preventing any form of this from occurring in any aspect of life. Details on those efforts are forthcoming. Suggestions and feedback as we move forward are welcome and invaluable.

2016 season will go on as planned while our thoughts and prayers are with any victims that may exist.  Look for additional organization wide updates in the near future."

The sheriff's department says the incident has been under investigation since the now 17-year-old victim told a parent, who then called the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department March 2.

Captain Mark Bennett with the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department said it is common for victims of sexual assault to report an assault years after it happened, especially in cases involving young victims. Bennett said to their knowledge the victim did not tell an adult of the alleged incident until her parent earlier this month, though she told others.

FOX 17 went to Galloway's business Monday for comment, at the Galloway Custom Homes office in Nunica; no one appeared to be in the office or returned our phone call.

Galloway is expected to be formally charged Tuesday morning in Grand Haven District Court.

Investigators are looking into the possibility of other victims and encourage any to come forward and call police or the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department at: (616) 738-4000.