A convicted sex offender was arrested after umpiring three games for a little girls' softball league, investigators with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday.
A parent, who is also a police officer, recognized the suspect, 36-year-old Fred Allen Thomas III, and reported him to Hueytown police officers and the Commissioner of Fast Pitch Softball Charlie Burton.
"He thought he was a convicted sex offender so basically he came to me and asked that we check him and see. I told him we would because he wasn't a regular umpire he was filling in," Burton said.
Hueytown police notified the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Sex Offender Investigations Unit on March 20 and obtained an arrest warrant on March 21 after detectives verified that Thomas was a convicted sex offender.
Thomas was arrested on March 22, posted a $30,000 bond and was released on March 24. He had been previously convicted of second degree sexual abuse involving a six-year-old female.
Burton couldn't believe it.
"I've been here almost 20 years we're always had background checks. We just took it as a rule umpires did too," said Burton.
But Burton quickly learned that wasn't the case. After learning that Thomas was an umpire, Burton notified USSSA, the organization that hires the umpires. But what he was told shocked him.
"Told them that we had an umpire out here we didn't want back out here. Because according to police he was convicted sex offender and they need to check their records, that's when we were notified they don't do background checks," said Burton.
Now Burton's warning other ballparks in the area.
"I'd like to encourage all the other parks have your organization check your umpires. They are dealing with kids just as much as coaches are," said Burton.
We have reached out to USSSA, but have not yet heard back.
Authorities have not said how old the girls were who played in the softball league.
The sheriff's office said the softball association and Hueytown Police Department assisted them in their investigation.
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