Another camp counselor sues Circle R Ranch

Another victim is suing a Long Prairie horseback riding summer camp, saying its owner gave a sexual predator who worked at the camp free reign to groom and sexually exploit underage girls.

The victim, identified in the federal civil lawsuit filed Thursday as Doe 602, was a junior camp counselor in 2015 when the camp’s activities director, Scott Fortier, sexually assaulted her and another teenager at his home is Blaine.

Fortier, who videotaped the assault, was convicted in 2018 on state charges of criminal sexual conduct and federal charges of manufacturing child pornography.

Wolf & Shepherd

In sentencing him to 25 years in prison, a federal judge called Fortier "a wolf let loose in a field of sheep." 

But civil lawsuits, filed by St. Paul Attorney Jeffrey Anderson, have focused attention not just on the ‘wolf,’ but the negligence of the ‘shepherd,’ Circle R Ranch, and its owner, Jack McCoy.

As the FOX 9 Investigators reported in March, a previous civil suit brought by another victim against Circle R Ranch, and McCoy, reached an undisclosed settlement the day before it was scheduled for trial.

The latest lawsuit similarly alleges that Circle R Ranch was negligent in its hiring, supervision, and retention of Fortier.

"Circle R Ranch made the decision to allow Scott Fortier access to its facilities and minor girls there despite the knowledge that Fortier used his position at Circle R Ranch to create relationships with, groom, and sexually exploit, and sexually abuse minor girls he met there," the lawsuit states. 

An Enabler

Another victim of Fortier, who was assaulted when she was 15 years old, told FOX 9 the owner of the ranch played a supporting role in the abuse.

"I think Jack (McCoy) was the enabler in this situation," she said.  "It’s shocking that there were no criminal charges the camp has been convicted of."

She is concerned that the website for Circle R Ranch was recently revamped, an effort she sees as "rebranding the camp," and believes parents sending their children to the camp may not have seen recent news reports.

"I think the civil suit is kind of the only way to make sure parents know what’s going on and actually just bring some accountability to the situation," she said.

Fortier had odd, misguided notions about the age of consent that were flatly wrong, she said.

"He would explicitly talk to me about age, and he knew he was doing something wrong when I was 15, but that as soon as I turned 16, he thought he was now doing something that was okay, or legal in his mind," she said.

According to the lawsuit, Fortier worked without pay for several years because he mistakenly believed that would mean he wasn’t in a ‘position of authority,’ as defined by state law, and could therefore have sex with minors.

Doe 602

Fortier first met Doe 602 when she was 12 or 13 years old and a camper at Circle R Ranch.

By the summer of 2016, when Doe 602 was 15 years old and Fortier was 37, "he told her she could come to parties at his home if she became his friend," the lawsuit states.

Fortier invited Doe 602 and a 16-year-old he met at Circle R Ranch to his home in Blaine, where he provided alcohol to the underage girls and sexually assaulted them. 

Fortier video recorded himself sexually assaulting Doe 602, who was unconscious during the assault.

In December 2016, two other young women reported Fortier to the Anoka County Sheriff.  Detectives raided Fortier’s home and recovered hundreds of pornographic videos, including self-made videos involving minors.

Fortier first attended Circle R Ranch in 1988 as a camper when he was 10 years old.  He was affiliated with the camp until 2016 when he was arrested.

A ‘hunting ground’

The civil lawsuit and criminal investigative files detail multiple warnings Circle R Ranch had about Fortier. 

In 2005, two camp counselors Fortier had abused in 2001 and 2003, told McCoy that Fortier was providing alcohol to minors and using Circle R Ranch as way to meet and have sex with underage girls.

One of those women told FOX 9 she also reported Fortier to the Todd County Sheriff. 

The father of yet another girl contacted McCoy in 2005 about concerns Fortier was using Circle R Rach as a "hunting ground" to meet underage girls.

McCoy fired Fortier in 2005, but never investigated sexual abuse reports and never reported him to authorities, the lawsuit claims. 

Fortier Returns to Circle R

In 2008, Fortier returned to Circle R Ranch and was allowed to work with, hire, and supervise minor counselors and junior counselors until he was arrested, the lawsuit claims. 

It was during this eight-year period that Fortier declined to be paid, yet he wore a T-shirt that said ‘staff,’ hired counselors, organized camp activities, and was the DJ for dance parties, the lawsuit alleges. 

To new campers, McCoy would reportedly introduce Fortier variously as ‘The Man, The Legend,’ or simply "The Dude."

A lawyer for Circle R Ranch and Jack McCoy did not respond to a request for comment last week.

The summer session at Circle R Ranch begins July 2.

Fortier is currently incarcerated in a federal prison in Pekin, Illinois.