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Vernonia man accused of molesting grandchildren

Richard Scott Courtney faces 29 counts of sex abuse after investigation
by: Courtesy photo Richard Scott Courtney

A 62-year-old Vernonia-area man was arrested Friday and charged with 29 counts of sexual abuse against three children, two of whom are his grandchildren.

Deputies and federal agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested Richard Scott Courtney at his home following a 10-month long investigation.

The alleged abuse happened during the summer, when Courtney's grandchildren visited him from Colorado. The third child was a neighbor who regularly played with the children.

'We received a tip from Colorado and acted on it,' said Columbia County Sheriff Jeff Dickerson.

Courtney's computer was seized over the summer and reviewed at ICE's computer lab by its child exploitation team. The federal agency was brought into the investigation because the Sheriff's Office did not have the resources to investigate Courtney's computers and because the children were transported across state lines.

Most of the evidence of Courtney's alleged crimes was on his computer, Dickerson said. He would not discuss details.

The Amani Center in St. Helens assisted with interviewing the children. The center specializes in assessing child abuse and regularly assists with law enforcement investigations by interviewing victims of child abuse.

Lisa Galovich, director of the Amani Center, said there are far more children who are being abused than what is publicized.

Courtney is being held at the Columbia County Jail on 26 counts of sex abuse in the first degree and three counts of using a child in the display of sexually explicit conduct.

Dickerson also expects Courtney to face a grand jury indictment and be charged with federal crimes.