A Wilmington man has been charged with child abduction in connection with reportedly attempting to lure a child into his car at Ogden Park, according to the sheriff’s office.
James Raymond Gallagher, 55, was arrested Friday evening, charged with felony abduction of children and driving while impaired, according to New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Lt. Jerry Brewer.
Deputies responded to the Ogden Park baseball fields at 9:10 p.m. Friday, when Gallagher reportedly attempted leave the park in his vehicle.
A 9-year-old boy was playing in the park with other children when Gallagher allegedly offered the child money to get into his vehicle, Brewer said. The child refused, ran from the suspect and told his grandmother about the incident.
“The child didn’t get into the vehicle, but the way the statute reads, if you even try to entice a child…that’s child abduction,” Brewer said. “Additional children are believed to have had contact with Gallagher offering the same incentive.”
Gallagher was a former volunteer coach for a YMCA children’s basketball team, according to Dick Jones, president and CEO of the Wilmington Family YMCA. Gallagher coached the children–a co-ed group of third- and fourth-graders–from January to March 2014 and from November 2014 to February 2015.
The Wilmington Family YMCA has a screening process for all of its volunteers, Jones said.
“Our process is, whenever someone says they are willing to [volunteer], we do a review of them through our state’s justice department screening to make sure they are not listed on any sexual predator list,” Jones said.
According to the N.C. Department of Corrections, Gallagher was convicted of two misdemeanors in New Hanover County in March 1999, but had no prior sexual assault convictions. If convicted of the pending charge, Gallagher would not be eligible to volunteer with the YMCA again, Jones said.
Gallagher was booked at the New Hanover County jail under a $25,500 secured bond. He was released just before 5 a.m. Saturday, according to jail records.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office at 910-798-4162 or submit a tip on the sheriff’s office website.
Christina Haley is a crime and courts reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6337 or firstname.lastname@example.org.