LONG PRAIRIE, Minn. —A survivor of sexual abuse and exploitation filed a lawsuit Monday, June 22, against Circle R Ranch, a summer horse camp for children in Long Prairie.
The survivor, identified as Doe 600 in the lawsuit, was sexually abused from 2015 to 2016 by Scott Francis Fortier, a longtime camp counselor at Circle R Ranch found guilty in 2018 of production and possession of child pornography. Fortier is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence for the 2018 conviction involving abuse of Doe 600 and another minor camper he met 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,” stated a news release from Jeff Anderson & Associates, the law firm representing Doe 600.
A request for comment from Circle R Ranch was not returned Monday.
The personal injury lawsuit seeks a judgment against the ranch in an amount in excess of $50,000. It alleges management of Circle R Ranch knew or should have known Fortier was an “unfit employee with dangerous and exploitive propensities, prior to Fortier’s sexual abuse of Doe 600,” yet it failed to take appropriate action to remedy the problem or remove him from employment.
“As a direct result of Circle R Ranch’s conduct … Doe 600 has suffered, and will continue to suffer, great pain of mind and body, severe and permanent emotional distress, physical manifestations of emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, humiliation, physical, personal and psychological injuries,” the summons stated. “Doe 600 was prevented, and will continue to be prevented, from performing daily activities and obtaining the full enjoyment of life; and/or has incurred and will continue to incur expenses from psychological treatment, therapy, and counseling, and, on information and belief has and/or will incur loss of income and/or loss of earning capacity.”
In January 2018, Fortier was convicted by a federal jury of producing and possessing child pornography after the victim reported 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.
“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,” Attorney Jeff 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.”
In November 2018 at Fortier’s sentencing hearing, numerous former campers at Circle R Ranch provided statements 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,” according to the news release.
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.
According to the plaintiff’s attorneys, Fortier admitted at his trial he collected sexually explicit photographs of girls from Circle R Ranch. He also testified under oath 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.”
Circle R Ranch 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. Doe 600 was a resident camper at the ranch for extended periods during the summer months from about 2010 to 2016, between the ages of 10 and 17.
“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.”
Based on the evidence obtained in this case, authorities believe there may be additional victims who have not yet been identified. Anyone with information about this matter is encouraged to call the FBI at 763-569-8395. Callers may remain anonymous.