Convicted child abuser Scott Francis Fortier was allowed free access to young girls at Circle R Ranch in Long Prairie for years.
(Saint Paul, MN) – Today, a courageous survivor of sexual abuse and exploitation filed a lawsuit against Circle R Ranch, a summer horse camp for children in Long Prairie, Minnesota. The survivor, identified as Doe 600 in the lawsuit, was sexually abused from 2015 to 2016 by Scott Francis Fortier, a convicted child pornographer, and longtime camp counselor at Circle R Ranch. Doe 600 says she brings her lawsuit today because she wants Circle R Ranch held accountable for allowing so many girls to be sexually abused by Fortier for so many years, and to encourage other survivors to come forward and share their stories. Fortier is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence for a 2018 child pornography conviction involving abuse of Doe 600 and another minor camper he met at Circle R Ranch.
Scott Fortier was “a wolf let loose in a field of sheep” at Circle R Ranch
In January, 2018, Fortier was convicted by a federal jury of producing and possessing child pornography after a child reported that Fortier provided her and another girl alcohol and then sexually assaulted them. Fortier, who was 38 years old at the time, recorded the sexual assaults on his phone. He met both girls through his involvement at Circle R Ranch. In November, 2018 Fortier was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Numerous former campers at Circle R Ranch provided statements at his sentencing hearing describing years of sexual assaults and rapes by the former camp counselor. Prior to sentencing Fortier, the Federal Judge on the case described him and the girls at Circle R Ranch as, “a wolf let loose in a field of sheep.”
Attorney Jeff Anderson, who represents Doe 600 says that given Fortier’s predatory ways, Circle R Ranch’s granting him continued and almost unlimited access to vulnerable young girls for so many years is terrifying. “Fortier was a predator and Circle R Ranch did nothing to stop him. In fact the camp provided him with free access to young girls away from home for decades,” Anderson said. “The managers at this camp turned a blind eye to the peril, and a blind eye to the safety of the kids at its camp.” Anderson, a pioneer in the fight for the rights of child sexual abuse survivors, has represented hundreds of victims of abuse over the past forty years.
After Fortier’s 2018 arrest investigators discovered hundreds of sexually explicit images and videos of minors on his phone and other devices, including images of prepubescent girls engaged in sexual conduct. Fortier admitted at his trial that he collected sexually explicit photographs of girls from Circle R Ranch. He also testified under oath that with regard to his sexual assault of minors, such behavior “was part of my world in all of the years that I had been involved with people from [Circle R Ranch] and the group of friends that I had and so it wasn’t – it never – it never came up as abnormal to me.”
Fortier had access to vulnerable girls at Circle R Ranch for decades – likely had dozens of victims there
Circle R Ranch, located in Long Prairie, Minnesota, two hours northwest of Minneapolis, has been in operation for 49 years. Fortier first attended Circle R Ranch in the 1980s as a camper, and eventually worked there as a junior counselor and counselor. Fortier continued to volunteer at the camp until shortly before his arrest in 2018. During his decades of association at the camp he used his position to access, groom, and sexually assault and rape numerous girls, including Doe 600.
“The courage and strength Doe 600 has shown – and continues to show – by coming forward, sharing her own story and bringing this lawsuit is truly incredible,” said attorney Josh Peck, who represents Doe 600 with Anderson. “She files this suit today not only to take back some of her own power, and to hold Circle R Ranch accountable for the abuse she suffered, but also out of a sincere desire to make it known that the kids at Circle R Ranch were exposed to a very real danger there for years.”
Peck said Doe 600 is concerned that other survivors from Circle R Ranch feel too ashamed to come forward. He said Doe 600’s concerns are very real, and that keeping abuse secret for years, even decades, is common among sexual abuse survivors. Peck says part of the reason is that many survivors blame themselves for sexual abuse they suffered as children and feel they were complicit in some way. “We want all of those girls who Fortier abused, and all survivors of sexual abuse, to know it’s never their fault,” Peck said. “Fortier, like all abusers, is a predator, and he preyed on Doe 600 and the other girls at Circle R Ranch for far too long.”
Jeff Anderson: 651.227.9990 (o); 612.817.8665 (c)
Josh Peck: 651.227.9990 (o); 651.253.4972 (c)