James "Doc" Jensen, a former Miles City high school athletic trainer who abused dozens of high school athletes, was sentenced Tuesday to 12 years in prison.
Jensen, 79, will also serve three years of supervised release, according to the ruling issued Tuesday in U.S. Federal Court in Billings. Chief U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen presided at the sentencing hearing.
“For years, James Jensen manipulated and committed horrible abuse against many boys, causing emotional and physical harm that his victims still suffer today. Our sincere hope is that this prosecution of Jensen, holding him accountable for his abuse, will help close a chapter in the lives of his many victims and allow them, their families and friends along with the Miles City community to begin to heal,” U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said in a press release. “We recognize that coming forward to report abuse is difficult, but if you or someone you know is being physically or sexually abused, please report it.”
Jensen will serve his time in prison at a federal facility in Rochester, Minnesota, that houses prisoners with significant medical needs, according to a U.S. attorney's office spokeswoman. Jensen's defense attorney has said he suffers from diabetes and uses a wheelchair.
Jensen pleaded guilty in March to coercion and enticement. Prosecutors say he told the boys the sexual activity was part of "The Program," a fraudulent scheme to boost their athletic performance.
He worked as an athletic trainer at the Custer County District High School in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. Prosecutors said that Jensen admitted to abusing between 30 and 40 boys, but that the actual number of victims could be much higher and will likely never be known.
His abuses came to light after a civil suit was filed against Jensen and the Miles City Unified School District in 2018. Jensen was unable to be prosecuted for his crimes at the state level because of the statute of limitations at the time.
He does face recent child porn charges from the state based on evidence discovered during the investigation launched after the civil suit.
His federal conviction stems from his use of the internet to research supposed principles of "The Program." A witness also told investigators that Jensen contacted underage boys online using a false identity.
Prosecutors had initially asked for 15 years in prison in the case. Jensen's defense attorney asked for 8 years, citing Jensen's poor health and previous cooperation with investigators.
That defense filing said Jensen was investigated in 2002, and that he admitted at the time to "the offense conduct he stands convicted of today."