Crime

Bellingham man met rape, molestation victims at local racquetball gym, charges say

McClatchy

A Bellingham man has been charged with molesting two girls and raping an intoxicated woman, at least two of whom he met as a regular at a local gym.

Carlos A. Scott, aka Carlos Alberto Rivera, 45, who is well-known as an elite player in the local racquetball scene, has been arrested three times over the past three months and charged with sex crimes that date from 2013 to spring 2017.

First report

A preteen girl told her father in late April that Scott, a family friend, had molested her at their home, according to charging papers. The girl hesitated to tell anyone because she felt confused and in disbelief about what had happened.

Scott came over to her family’s house one night for a dinner party. Scott and the girl were in a TV room with no other adults when he grabbed her from behind and sexually touched her under her shirt and pants, she recounted in charging papers. According to her report, she said “no,” when Scott asked her if she liked it.

The girl left the room but returned a few minutes later. Scott pulled her onto his lap and sexually touched her again, she reported.

Scott was arrested May 22, to face two counts of second-degree rape of a child. Records show he spent about 14 hours in jail before Superior Court Commissioner Alfred Heydrich released him without requiring him to post bail.

Second report

About a week later the news of Scott’s arrest prompted a woman in her 30s to tell Whatcom County Sheriff’s detectives about an incident from the summer of 2014.

She’d gotten to know Scott through the Bellingham Athletic Club. The woman told detectives Scott made her uncomfortable with offers of massages and comments about peoples’ figures, according to court papers. She said she turned down his repeated offers for drinks.

“I thought we were friends,” Scott kept telling her, the woman told detectives. Eventually she gave in and had two drinks with Scott in Barkley Village. She then went with him to his apartment, where he offered her another drink. The woman passed out after the drink and awoke to find Scott raping her, according to charging papers. She told Scott to “get the (expletive) off,” then left his apartment. She told detectives she never consented to sex, and believed Scott undressed her while she was unconscious.

She told investigators she was embarrassed about what happened and did not immediately report it to authorities.

Scott appeared in court in July on a summons for second-degree rape. Superior Court Commissioner Martha Gross set bail at $50,000, and Scott spent the night in jail. He posted bond the following afternoon.

Third case

A teenage girl in June told investigators how a few years earlier Scott had become her personal trainer at the athletic club, “at his urging” – even though that’s a violation of gym policy. She would have been in her early teens. One day in a room for Zumba classes, she recounted, Scott started to massage her and moved his hands to her privates. He told her it was part of the massage, she told detectives. She did not know what to do.

All personal trainers must be employees of the club, said Cathy Buckley, director of the Bellingham Athletic Club. Scott, a salesman, was not employed at the club when he supposedly was the girl’s personal trainer.

The girl also reported another incident at a birthday party – Scott, who had been drinking, asked her to belly dance for him, according to charging papers. She sat down by him on the couch, and he pulled her onto his lap and started to kiss her, she reported. She was 15.

Scott was charged this month with three counts of child molestation. Superior Court Commissioner David Thorn set bail at $20,000, which Scott posted.

Scott’s attorney, Ziad Youssef, released a brief statement Wednesday afternoon to The Bellingham Herald.

“Mr. Scott has entered a not guilty plea to the charges which calls into question all the elements of the state’s case,” Youseff wrote. “We intend to preserve his rights to examine the evidence, investigate the claim and then present his case.”

The club’s response

Scott joined the Bellingham Athletic Club in 2002. He’s considered an “elite” racquetball player, ranked as one of the top athletes in Washington state. He was banned from the gym when the first report came to light in May, Buckley said.

“We’re just sick about this,” Buckley said. “We kick members out if anyone even says anything that makes people uncomfortable. … Even a whisper of it, that’s all anybody has to say.”

Authorities said they are concerned there could be more cases of sexual abuse. Tips can be directed to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office at 360-778-6600.

“We would like to have to hear from people who have similar contact with him,” said Erik Sigmar, the deputy prosecutor. “We have reason to believe that there’s a real danger to the public.”

Mr. Scott’s middle name was corrected Aug. 18, 2017.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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