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Records: Former athletic trainer to plead guilty in sex case

February 9, 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. Jensen, a former Montana high school athletic trainer accused of sexually abusing students, plans to plead guilty to a federal charge of coercion and enticement. (Custer County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A former Montana high school trainer charged with sexually abusing students and telling them it was to improve their athletic performance plans to plead guilty to a federal charge of coercion and enticement, according to court records.

James “Doc” Jensen Jr.’s attorney filed a motion Thursday to change the 78-year-old’s plea from not guilty. There is no agreement for him to receive a lighter sentence in exchange for his guilty plea, federal public defender Steven Babcock said in the motion.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Cavan has set a Tuesday hearing in Billings.

If his guilty plea is accepted, Jensen could face up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The charge against Jensen is related to accusations in a pending lawsuit by former Custer County District High School students that he groomed and sexually abused them while he was the school’s trainer from the 1970s through the 1990s.

They say Jensen promised to enhance their strength and testosterone levels through participation in “The Program,” in which he performed nude massages and sexual acts on the boys.

Jensen previously apologized if he caused distress for any of the boys but denied the lawsuit’s more serious allegations.

The federal indictment from December focuses on Jensen’s actions from 1995 until 1999. It says Jensen used materials from the internet to justify his program and persuade students that it would boost their athletic performance.

Jensen wasn’t criminally charged with abusing former students because the statute of limitations had expired, officials have said.

Jensen also faces 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, Custer County Attorney Wyatt Glade said.

Jensen has pleaded not guilty to the state charges. A trial is scheduled for June.

Glade said he intends to soon enter into plea negotiations with Jensen.

“If we can find a reasonable outcome, we’ll do it,” he said.

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