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Former GH man sentenced to 22 years in prison for locker room recordings

By John Hogan/WZZM-TV • May 17, 2017 at 7:57 PM

GRAND RAPIDS — A former Rockford rowing coach was sentenced Wednesday to 22 years in federal prison for secretly recording female athletes in locker rooms for more than four years.

Timothy Warren Vallier, 31, committed an “abhorrent breach of trust,’’ federal prosecutors said in asking for a lengthy term.

Several of his victims attended the sentencing in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids. Five people addressed the court.

"I am angry at him for violating me,'' one of his victims said. "I also feel sorry for a shell of a man I used to know.''

Judge Gordon J. Quist called the case "very, very difficult."

Investigators identified 62 victims displayed in more than 80 videos. Some of the girls knew Vallier since they were 12.

Vallier apologized to the packed federal courtroom for his "betrayal.''

"As a human being, I am ashamed of my actions,'' said Vallier, a former Grand Haven resident. "I never wished for any of you to suffer.''

Rockford Public Schools Superintendent Michael Shibler said he had hoped to address the court, but was unable to do so. He commended the victims who showed up and those who spoke.

"I'm very proud of them,'' Shibler said outside the courthouse. "They were very brave and heroic in their position, in their statements.''

Vallier's conduct has had an impact far beyond the 62 girls listed as victims, Shibler said.

“It was their families, their friends, the community of Rockford,'' he said. "This is an issue that we have dealt with for the last 11 months. And quite frankly, it’s had an impact on the entire community.''

In September 2016, Vallier pleaded guilty to attempted sexual exploitation of children, which is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and up to 30 years in prison. He also entered a plea to possession of child pornography, a 20-year offense.

“Vallier has been using the girls he coached for his own sexual gratification,’’ Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Y. Mekaru wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “From 2012 to 2016, Vallier repeatedly took surreptitious video recordings of the girls he was trusted to coach as they undressed. This was not a one-time failure of judgment. It was a deliberate and repeated course of conduct.’’

Although Vallier has no criminal past, sentencing guidelines recommended a life sentence. The combined statutory range of his offenses is between 15 and 50 years.

Defense attorney Richard Zambon called the recommendation for life in prison “substantially unreasonable.’’

“Mr. Vallier’s history and characteristics do not call for such an outrageous result,’’ Zambon wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “A sentence in excess of the mandatory minimum of 15 years would unreasonably regard Mr. Vallier as the worst of the worst.’’

Vallier was arrested in July 2016 after two recent Rockford High School graduates helping coach the school rowing team found a video camera in the team’s SUV that was under Vallier’s control.

He initially was charged with five felony counts. State charges were dropped so the case could be prosecuted in federal court.

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