Circle R Ranch Knew Longtime Employee & Volunteer Scott Fortier had Sexual Interest in Minor Girls More than a Decade Before 2016 Arrest
(Long Prairie, Minnesota) – Last Thursday, a brave survivor of sexual abuse at Circle R Ranch, filed a lawsuit against the Long Prairie, Minnesota youth summer camp. The survivor, identified as Doe 602, was sexually abused by long-time Circle R Ranch counselor and camp activities director Scott Francis Fortier, when she was 15 years old in 2016. This is the second lawsuit filed against Circle R Ranch alleging abuse by Fortier. The first lawsuit was filed in 2020 by Jeff Anderson & Associates on behalf of a survivor and former Circle R Ranch camper and counselor identified as Doe 600, who was sexually abused from 2015 to 2016. That lawsuit settled days before it was set to go to trial in March of this year. Scott Fortier is currently serving a 25-year federal prison sentence for his sex crimes against children, including Doe 602.
“The courage Doe 602 has shown, first in helping to put Fortier behind bars, and now in fighting to hold Circle R Ranch accountable, is incredible and inspiring,” said attorney Josh Peck. “Helping this young woman on her journey to regain some of the power that was taken from her as a child is an honor that we take seriously.”
Scott Fortier Sexually Abused Doe 602 in 2016 after Meeting her at Circle R Ranch
Scott Fortier met Doe 602 at Circle R Ranch in the summer of 2016, when Fortier was 37, and Doe 602 was a 15-year-old counselor at the camp. A few weeks later, Fortier invited Doe 602 and another Circle R Ranch counselor to his home in Blaine where he gave the girls alcohol, and recorded himself sexually assaulting them throughout the night. The girls reported the abuse to police who investigated and found the videos Fortier recorded on his phone. Authorities also found numerous explicit photographs and videos of other Circle R Ranch counselors, some of them minors, at Fortier’s home.
Circle R Ranch Learned Fortier was a Danger to Girls at the Camp Years Before he Abused Doe 602 but Allowed Him to Continue Working at the Camp
Scott Fortier first attended Circle R Ranch in the 1980s as a camper and eventually worked there as a counselor, activities director, and program director. Circle R Ranch’s owner Jack McCoy fired Fortier in 2005 after two counselors reported that Fortier had sex with them when they were minor counselors at the camp, and that they were concerned he was still abusing minor girls at the camp. McCoy did not report the allegations to police as mandated by Minnesota’s mandatory reporting laws. In 2008, McCoy allowed Fortier to come back to Circle R Ranch where he continued to work and volunteer until shortly before he was arrested in 2016. Over the course of the next eight years at Circle R Ranch, Fortier used his position and status to access, groom, sexually abuse, assault and exploit numerous girls, including Doe 602.
Fortier’s years of abuse of minor girls was only stopped when Doe 602 and her friend reported to police, prompting an investigation and Fortier’s eventual arrest.
“Circle R Ranch put its own profits and popularity above the safety of the children it was responsible for,” said attorney Jeff Anderson. “Because Circle R Ranch was more concerned with filling bunks than protecting children, hundreds of children who were entrusted by parents to the camp’s care every summer for years were exposed to this dangerous and calculating predator. Based on our own investigation, we believe Circle R Ranch is still a hazard today. Fortier may be in prison, but Circle R Ranch’s indifference toward the safety of kids at its camp means the very real peril continues.”
Scott Fortier Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for Production & Possession of Child Pornography in 2018
After the 2016 police report, state and federal authorities investigated Fortier and learned the immense scope of his crimes. Authorities uncovered hundreds of sexually explicit images and videos of minors on Fortier’s phone and other devices, including sexually explicit images and videos of girls he met at Circle R Ranch over the years. At his criminal trial in 2018, Fortier admitted to having sexual contact with several young counselors he met at Circle R Ranch.
“Although several victims reported their experiences during the criminal investigation, we believe there are many more survivors who were abused at camp who have yet to come forward,” said attorney Josh Peck. “In many instances, it can be too painful for survivors to admit to themselves they are a victim at all, so instead they suffer in shame and silence. Survivors must know they will be believed, and will not be blamed – what was done to them was never their fault, no matter how much this predator coerced them into feeling that way.”
After a jury convicted Fortier, he was sentenced by Judge Patrick J. Schiltz in United States District Court on November 7, 2018. At the sentencing hearing, Judge Schiltz called Fortier “a wolf let loose in a field of sheep,” at Circle R Ranch.
In June 2020, Jeff Anderson & Associates filed the first lawsuit against Circle R Ranch on behalf of Doe 600. Circle R Ranch attempted to have that case thrown out, arguing that Scott Fortier could have sex with minor girls he met at the camp as long as the girls were 16-years-old. Circle R Ranch argued that it would be inappropriate for them to monitor who Fortier was having sex with at its camp. The Court denied Circle R Ranch’s attempt to get the case thrown out in May of 2022.
“Given what we’ve learned about Circle R Ranch, and the culture that was allowed to exist there for so many years, the number of victims of sexual abuse and exploitation by Fortier could realistically be dozens,” said attorney Jeff Anderson. “Our hope is that by making this danger known to the public, we can help Doe 602 on her journey of recovery, and that we can protect more kids from getting hurt.”