BELLINGHAM - An 18-year-old Bellingham man was charged this week with molesting a Girl Scout during a summer camp and the months that followed.
Andre Acosta-Ruiz had known the girl for years through the Girl Scout program, according to charges filed by Whatcom County Deputy Prosecutor Jeffrey D. Sawyer.
He was a "co-leader" - essentially a volunteer mentor, but not part of an official "camporee" leadership team. During a three-day camp in early June, he arranged to meet the girl, who is more than four years younger than him, in a secluded spot at Camp Lutherwood, according to the charges.
Acosta-Ruiz later told another co-leader that he broke the rules and met the girl late at night, alone, because she was having personal problems and he was comforting her. According to the charges, he had sexually touched her over her clothes that night.
After the camp, Acosta-Ruiz started giving the girl guitar lessons. Sawyer alleged they had an intimate relationship that included sexual touching, and at one point he persuaded the girl to text him a nude photo.
Acosta-Ruiz was arrested last week and charged Wednesday, Dec. 12. He's now out of jail after posting $50,000 bond. A call to his listed number went unanswered.
Girl Scouts officials in the region released a statement Friday that said, in part: "Our overarching concern is for the girl involved. Girl Scouts of Western Washington is committed to cooperating fully with the proper authorities. We do understand Andre Acosta-Ruiz has been charged. We do not comment on active investigations, and cannot provide further details at this time."
Kate Dabe, a spokeswoman for Girl Scouts of Western Washington, declined to say how long Acosta-Ruiz had been with the program, citing the no-comment policy. She also declined to say when authorities were alerted of anything untoward.
The county Sheriff's Office started investigating the girl's story after receiving a referral from Child Protective Services on Aug. 13, according to the charges.
As recently as fall 2012, Acosta-Ruiz apparently coached soccer for girls 9 and younger, according to a Whatcom County Youth Soccer Association directory posted days before the season started in September. Lance Calloway, Whatcom Sports Commission director, declined to confirm if Acosta-Ruiz coached soccer this year.
"He's no longer affiliated with youth soccer in any way," Calloway said.
Calloway later added that Acosta-Ruiz had passed a Washington State Patrol background check. He declined further comment.
Acosta-Ruiz stands accused of second-degree child rape, two counts of child molestation in the second degree and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.
Reach CALEB HUTTON at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2276.