Crime

Former Arne Hanna lifeguard sent to prison for filming women, having child porn

Bellingham employee accused of voyeurism, possessing child porn

David Frick of Lynden, Washington, faces charges of voyeurism and possessing child pornography after he was suspected of filming people in a locker room at a swimming pool in Bellingham.
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David Frick of Lynden, Washington, faces charges of voyeurism and possessing child pornography after he was suspected of filming people in a locker room at a swimming pool in Bellingham.

A former longtime Bellingham city employee and Special Olympics coach will spend five years in prison for child pornography and videotaping fellow female employees in a staff changing area at the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center in 2015.

David Alan Frick, 56, was sentenced Monday in Whatcom County Superior Court to five years in prison, with three years probation for one count of viewing depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct and four counts of voyeurism. Frick pleaded guilty to the charges in November.

He will have to register as a sex offender and will be required to complete sex offender treatment as part of his probation, according to Whatcom County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Evan Jones. Frick is also not allowed to work in recreation or other fields that permit access to minors, and has restrictions on using the internet and devices capable of making photographs and videos, Jones said.

Judge Rob Olson adopted the agreed sentencing recommendation, which was an exceptional sentence above the standard range.

“Mr. Frick’s actions, while seemingly committed in secret, had a negative effect on our entire community. People trusted him, and he exploited that trust for his own perverse gratification,” Jones said in an emailed statement. “We hope his time in prison and treatment will remind him, his victims, and the community at large, that decisions have consequences.”

The Bellingham Herald has reached out to Frick’s public defender, Starck Follis, for comment.

In July 2016, Bellingham police received a tip about child pornography being uploaded to a website. After determining the IP address associated with the uploaded photo, detectives found the user had posted in various chat rooms associated with child pornography and incest, according to court records.

Frick file
David Frick, right, makes his first appearance in Whatcom County Jail courtroom with deputy public defender Maialisa Vanyo in 2016. Frick, 56, was sentenced Monday in Whatcom County Superior Court to five years in prison, with three years probation for one count of viewing depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct and four counts of voyeurism. Frick pleaded guilty to the charges in November. Staff The Bellingham Herald file

The IP address was tracked to Frick’s address in Lynden, the records state. In early August, detectives served a search warrant on Frick’s address and seized several electronic devices belonging to him that held hundreds of photos and videos of minors engaged in sexually explicit acts, records show.

At the time of the search warrant, Frick agreed to a police interview and admitted to possessing child pornography for a number of years, and stated he believed he had a problem, court records state. During the interview, Frick also admitted that over the past year he had set up his cellphone in the staff locker room at the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center with the intention of filming his coworkers while they were changing, according to court records.

Frick was arrested and initially charged with one count of possession of depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, one count of first-degree dealing in depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and four counts of voyeurism, according to court records.

Frick began working for the aquatic center part-time in 1996 and became a full-time employee in 2007. He had worked as an aquatic instructor and lead lifeguard, according to court records. He resigned shortly after his arrest in August 2016.

Six women sued the city and Frick in two separate lawsuits over the voyeurism after Frick admitted to videotaping the women in 2015, records state.

In August, one woman and her husband were awarded $1 million in damages against Frick in a civil lawsuit filed in April 2017. The court dismissed the woman’s claims against the city on March 9, 2018, saying the city can’t be held liable for the intentional criminal actions of its employee because the criminal acts were not for the employer’s benefit and were outside the scope of employment. Steve Chance, the couple’s attorney, has appealed that decision.

Five other women filed a separate lawsuit on July 11 seeking damages against Frick. The lawsuit states Frick’s alleged actions violated the women’s privacy, created a hostile work environment, constitute harassment, sexual harassment and caused intentional or negligent emotional distress, ultimately causing one employee to leave her job at the aquatic center.

That lawsuit is still pending, according to court records.

Reporter Denver Pratt joined The Bellingham Herald in 2017 and covers courts and criminal and social justice. She has worked in Montana, Florida and Virginia.

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