A former Montana high school athletic trainer has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for having child pornography on his computer.
District Judge Michael Hayworth sentenced the 79-year-old James Jensen on Wednesday in Miles City.
The state sentence will follow Jensen's 12-year federal term for using the internet to coerce and entice male athletes at Custer County District High School into being sexually abused under the guise of improving their performance.
The statute of limitations for prosecuting the sexual abuse, which occurred from the 1970s through the late 1990s, has expired.
Jensen is in frail health and will serve the federal sentence at a federal prison in Rochester, Minnesota, that houses prisoners with medical needs.
The Wednesday sentencing follows the December 2018 discovery of pornographic images of boys as young as age 9 on his personal computer. The images were reported by a housekeeper at Eagles Manor, a care home where Jensen lived at the time.
Jensen will also have to register as a level three "sexually violent predator" for the rest of his life, said Custer County Attorney Wyatt Glade.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Jensen apologized for any mental or physical anguish he caused and said that was not his intent.
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Glade said he’s pleased with the sentences running consecutive to Jensen’s federal time in prison, although he found the victory “a little hollow given the time that has passed since his hands-on offenses.”
“He was a predator, and a dangerous one,” Glade said. “He manipulated and groomed those kids, and it continued after he left (the school). In fact it continued right up to the date his computer was seized.”
Separately, Jensen, along with the high school and the Miles City Unified School District, are being sued by a group of 32 men who say they were sexually abused during Jensen’s tenure at the high school. Both prosecutors and Jensen's public defender say there were many more victims.
That lawsuit is creeping forward, with more depositions being sworn next week, said Dan Rice, who attended Wednesday’s sentencing with several of the men who say they are among Jensen's victims.
“From the time the suit was filed until the sentencing today was only about a year, that’s pretty fast,” Rice said. “(The victims) are pleased and proud that some good has been done with their coming forward.”
The victims also found it a little satisfying that Jensen’s sentencing Wednesday came on the first day of school in Miles City.
“That would have been a day Jensen looked forward to each year, the day all those new kids showed up and he would have them to himself for the next nine months,” Rice said.