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Ex-trainer in abuse case wants to serve time in medical unit

July 26, 2019
FILE - This Dec. 13, 2018 file photo provided by the Custer County Sheriff's Office shows James "Doc" Jensen Jr. in Miles City, Mont. Federal prosecutors are recommending the former Montana high school athletic trainer accused of sexually abusing students for decades to be sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to a federal charge of coercion and enticement. (Custer County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)
FILE - This Dec. 13, 2018 file photo provided by the Custer County Sheriff's Office shows James "Doc" Jensen Jr. in Miles City, Mont. Federal prosecutors are recommending the former Montana high school athletic trainer accused of sexually abusing students for decades to be sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to a federal charge of coercion and enticement. (Custer County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A former high school athletic trainer who admitted coercing boys into sexual abuse over decades wants to be sent to a prison that specializes in long-term medical care, according to court documents filed Friday.

A court-appointed attorney for 79-year-old James Jensen said in court documents filed Friday his client is in very poor physical health and will need constant medical attention. Attorney Steven Babcock requested a sentence for Jensen of up to 8 years in prison, which is within federal sentencing guidelines.

Prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen to impose the maximum penalty of 15 years prison when Jensen is sentenced Tuesday in Billings. They’ve compared his crimes to those of Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor suspected of abusing hundreds of girls.

Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison for receipt and possession of child pornography and obstruction of justice.

Babcock argued that unlike Nassar, who destroyed evidence in his case, Jensen has confessed his crimes.

“Fifteen years for a 79-year-old man in poor health is more than necessary,” Babcock said. “Given the deteriorating health of James, a sentence within the advisory guidelines would be a life sentence.”

Jensen suffers from diabetes, limiting his mobility, Babcock said. He’s fallen numerous times while in custody and also developed bed sores that became infected and resulted in his hospitalization for two weeks, the attorney said.

Jensen was a trainer at Custer County District High School in Miles City from the 1970s until about 1998. Thirty-two people have accused him of abuse in a pending lawsuit, and both prosecutors and Jensen’s public defender say there were many more victims.

Jensen pleaded guilty in March to a charge of coercion and enticement. The time limit for charging him with sexual abuse had expired.

He faces separate state charges of possessing child pornography after authorities investigating the lawsuit’s claims raided his retirement home and found 10 images of underage boys who were nude or engaged in sex acts.

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