A parent recognizes the umpire at a girl's softball game as a convicted sex offender. Deputies say Fred Allen Thomas III had umpired three games in Hueytown before he was spotted. He's now out of jail on bond.
Thomas was a fill-in umpire at the ballpark and turned himself into authorities. The Hueytown Fastpitch Softball Commissioner says a national group assigned him. And while that umpire is off the field, parents are worried this situation could be happening in other ballparks.
More than 200 girls play softball at Allison Bonnet Park.
Parent Frank Wheeler says, "We got a good team, a good coach. I'm very proud to be out here."
It's a tight knit ballpark caught off guard by an unfamiliar umpire.
Charlie Burton, Commissioner of Hueytown Fastpitch Softball says, "One of the parents happened to observe him and said I think this guy is a possible sex offender."
36-year-old Fred Allen Thomas umpired three games before that parent, also a police officer, stepped up to the plate and called authorities.
Parent Traci Franklin says, "We have paramedics out here, we have nurses out here, we have law enforcement out here, so I'm very grateful that happened, but it also scares me for other communities."
Burton says The Hueytown Park and Rec Board requires coaches and people dealing with children to have a background check. But, a national group called UAAASA books the umpires.
That organization was called immediately.
Burton says, "All of them have to be licensed and trained into doing their umpiring. They have to go to classes and stuff like that. From my understanding, they didn't have to have a background check for Utrip."
Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale says Thomas's conviction involved a 6-year-old girl. He was umpiring for 8-year-olds.
He says it's important to be vigilant and know who's in your community. "To a convicted sex offender, you know there is no excuse. Just don't do it, obey the law, obey the rules, don't go where you're suppose to."
Burton advises ballparks to get with the organization you play under to make sure background checks are being done. He says UAAASA told him it's now doing background checks. We called the local director and have not heard back.