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New documents show officials investigated sex abuse by former Miles City trainer 17 years ago

Posted: 12:08 PM, Jul 27, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-29 14:50:13-04

BILLINGS — Allegations of years of sexual abuse to possibly hundreds of Miles City male student athletes were previously brought forth to the state of Montana back in 2002, according to information contained in new federal documents filed on Friday.

In a defendant’s response to sentencing regarding former Custer County High School athletic trainer James Jensen attorneys cite a prior investigation into Jensen’s conduct with students back some 17 years prior.

Jensen was charged in December in federal court after authorities discovered child pornography on his home computer. U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said Jensen used means of interstate commerce, including the internet, to “entice and coerce an individual who he believed was minor to engage in sexual activity.”

At the same time, a massive civil suit brought forth by 32 of Jensen’s victims continues to move forward in Custer County District Court. The civil suit names Jensen and accuses Miles City Unified School District administration of knowing about the abuse but doing nothing to stop it years ago.

However, back in October of 2002, state and federal law enforcement interviewed Jensen, and during that interview said Jensen essentially admitted to the sexual abuse he stands convicted of today.

Again in 2003, after interviewing James along with numerous victims in the case, the state of Montana decided not to pursue charges “for many reasons,” according to the documents.

Prosecutors said that for 20 years Jensen used his unfettered access to young boys to exploit their innocence for his own sexual gratification. During that span of time, Jensen used his position as the school’s athletic trainer to perform various sexual activities on boys during sessions in his home or at school.

Jensen called his abuse “The Program.”

One victim said he participated in “The Program” three to four times a week during the sports season in his freshman and sophomore years. Another victim said he received “100 treatments” from Jensen and described the abuse including oral sex as happening two to four times a week for years.

Friday’s federal filing also questions why the federal government didn’t pursue charges, saying “that the decision is unknown.”

It was determined at that time that Jensen’s abuse fell outside Montana’s current statute of limitations and that “the juveniles in the case were of the age to give consent,” according to the documents.

The filing said that some 17 years prior to his current federal and state charges along with the civil suit, Jensen admitted to the sexual abuse.

Friday’s filing is in response to a sentencing recommendation put forth earlier in the week by prosecutors who asked that Jensen be given 15 years in prison.

Jensen’s defense attorney is asking for specialized medical care to allow Jensen to serve out his prison time at a federal medical care center in Rochester, Minnesota. The facility specializes in long-term care for federal inmates. Steven Babcock, counsel for Jensen, said his client was in poor and deteriorating health, suffering from type 2 diabetes, and has limited mobility.

Jensen, 79, is set to be sentenced for federal charges of coercion Tuesday in Billings federal court.

-Reported by Andrea Lutz/MTN News