ALLENDALE, Mich. (WOOD) — The former coach of an elite Ottawa County traveling softball team is accused of raping a 13-year-old player, sheriff’s detectives said on Monday.
Thomas Barnes Galloway, 44, was arraigned Tuesday morning in Grand Haven District Court on a charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a minor.
The girl was a player for the Michigan Sabercats softball team at the time the alleged crime happened in June 2012 at a residence Galloway owned in Spring Lake Township, according to court records.
That was the same month Galloway was convicted of felony marijuana delivery. The conviction, reportedly involving a medical marijuana operation, put him on probation for a year.
Ottawa County Sheriff’s Offfice Capt. Mark Bennett said the investigation began in early March when the former player, now 17, disclosed details of the alleged assault to a parent, who brought it to police. He said detectives interviewed dozens of people associated with the team.
Police suspect Galloway may have provided alcohol and marijuana to the victim.
Galloway was an active board member and coach for the Michigan Sabercats travel softball team, which involves girls ages 8 to 18. The Sabercats’ home field is based in Allendale.
“Alarming revelations,” Capt. Bennett said. “This guy, for all intents and purposes I’m told, was a very accomplished softball coach, had sent girls, women, ultimately to play in college programs throughout the nation on scholarships.”
The allegations led the team to part ways with the coach, who also served as a board member. Fellow board member Kolbey Nelson said the team was shocked by the allegation.
“I have not much else to say, just in shock,” Nelson said. “Surprised as anybody else. We knew Tom for a long time, and he’s a heck of a softball guy.”
Nelson said the team was aware of the 2012 marijuana conviction.
“It didn’t have anything to do with kids. It didn’t have anything to do with coaching,” Nelson said. “Kids still chose to play for him, parents chose to play for him.”
Investigators are trying to determine if there may be any additional victims connected to the Spring Lake Township man, who was arrested Monday morning. Anyone with additional information in this case is asked to call the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office at 616.738.4000 or Silent Observer at 877.887.4536.
Galloway, who is married with kids, also is a well-known builder in the Grand Haven and Spring Lake area, working on high-end homes.
The Michigan Sabercats posted the following statement on its website Monday:
“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.”
***CORRECTION: A previous version of this story listed Galloway as the founder of Michigan Sabercats, which the organization said is not the case. The above story has since been corrected. 24 Hour News 8 apologizes for this error. ***