A longtime Bellingham city employee and Special Olympics coach admitted to videotaping four female employees in a changing area at the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center, according to the Bellingham Police Department.
Police arrested David Alan Frick, 53, of the Lynden area, to face charges of voyeurism and possessing child pornography Thursday, Aug. 4.
Frick started working part time at the pool in 1996 and became a full-time employee in 2007, according to the city. Most recently, he had worked as an aquatic instructor, giving swimming lessons to people of “all age ranges,” Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville said during a news conference Friday.
Frick is no longer a city employee as of about 6:15 p.m. Friday, said Bellingham spokeswoman Vanessa Blackburn. When the city gave Frick his termination notice, he resigned, she said.
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Frick is also listed in official Special Olympics documentation as a local coach for a variety of sports, including for the local swim team the Bellingham Pufferfish. The co-ed team’s roster ranges from teenagers to adults over 30 years old.
Blackburn said she had also heard about Frick’s involvement with the organization.
Police started investigating Frick on July 8, when Detective Pauline Renick received a tip about child pornography that had been shared in an online chat room about incest. The image showed a naked boy and girl, who looked to be 10 to 15 years old, engaged in a sex act. The file had been shared by someone with the screen name “nud62,” and the IP address was linked to Frick’s address on Old Guide Road, near Lynden.
Some search terms the person used online were “pedo,” “young,” “pervs,” and “tahboo” (sic), according to police reports. Renick obtained a warrant to search Frick’s home this week. When the warrant was served Thursday, he agreed to an interview and admitted to possessing and viewing the materials, Bellingham police Chief Clifford Cook said at the news conference.
Frick confessed to having at least 100 photos and 100 videos of child pornography, according to a probable cause statement released by police. He told the detective he’d been looking at videos like that for years, and that he now thinks he has a problem. Police have no reason to believe Frick took the photos himself, Cook said.
However, as the interview went on, police said Frick made another confession: For the past year or so, he had set up his cellphone in the aquatic center’s staff changing area to film four women without their knowledge, as they changed into their bathing suits. That staff locker room is separate from the public changing rooms at the city-run pool, according to police.
“We do not have any reason to believe that his criminal activities at the Aquatic Center involved patrons,” the Police Department said in a news release.
All four women were in their 20s, according to a probable cause statement. He last filmed the women earlier in the week, Frick told the detective. Officers booked him into the Whatcom County Jail around 9 p.m. Thursday.
Frick, a bearded 5-foot-10 man, made his first appearance in court Friday afternoon alongside a deputy public defender. Superior Court Commissioner David Thorne set bail at $20,000. Court records show Frick has no felony record in Washington state.
He moved from Vancouver, Wash., to Whatcom County in November 1986.
Leslie Bryson, director of Bellingham Parks and Recreation, said the staff locker room where the women were filmed is only intended as a room for employees to store belongings during their shifts. The public locker rooms are meant for changing.
Still, employees in a rush often use the private room to change clothes, Bryson said.
She added that the department is considering a new policy requiring employees to change only in the public locker rooms.
A spokesperson for the Washington state Special Olympics did not immediately return a message requesting comment.
Carol Anderson Ayers of Bellingham, a former local Special Olympics coordinator, said the organization puts prospective volunteers through an exhaustive vetting process before letting them work with athletes.
“You can’t even get on the court without an extensive background check and they have in place many procedures that make any misbehaving very difficult,” she said.
Ayers said Special Olympics coaches who would like advice about how to talk about the situation with athletes can call the Brigid Collins Family Support Center’s Bellingham office at 360-734-4616.
“We are all shocked by this development,” Linville said in a news release. “My top priority is to make sure that all community residents and employees are safe. ... We’re asking anyone with information in this case to contact the Police Department.”
People with tips can contact a police call center, at 360-778-8754, that will be open through the weekend from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Or visit cob.org/tips.