(BILLINGS) James E. “Doc” Jensen, a former high school athletic trainer in Miles City, has been accused of sexually abusing potentially hundreds of student-athletes in what a lawsuit describes as a “sophisticated system of ritual sexual abuse.”
A lawsuit filed Friday in Custer County District Court alleges that Jensen sexually abused male students at Custer County High School in Miles City starting in the 1970s until he left employment with the school district in 1998.
The lawsuit identifies at least 19 plaintiffs by initials and another 1 – 200 as “Joe Doe” victims who have yet to be identified. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from Jensen, the Miles City Unified School District, Custer County District High School, and numerous unnamed individuals.
According to the 20-page lawsuit filed by Billings attorney John Heenan, Jensen was an athletic trainer with the school district for the Custer County Cowboys athletic teams. The lawsuit alleges Jensen, who was known by the nickname “Doc,” used that position of trust to sexually abuse male students between the 7th and 12th grades.
The sexual abuse happened on school grounds and in several homes in Miles City where Jensen lived at different times, according to the lawsuit.
Much of the abuse started during annual physical exams the students were required to take to participate in sports activities. Jensen was not a medical doctor but would check for hernias during students exams, “which involved the handling of the students’ testicles and genitals,” the lawsuit states.
“Over his tenure as athletic trainer, Jensen handled the genitals of hundreds of student athletes, while on school grounds, despite lacking appropriate medical qualification to do so,” according to the lawsuit.
Jensen also used his position “to perform inappropriate massages and sexual abuse in the training room of the high school. Jensen required the boys seeking treatment to remove all of their clothing regardless of the location of the injury on the body. Jensen would routinely massage and conduct ultrasound on each boy’s groin and genitals even when there was no injury to those areas.”
The lawsuit alleges the abuse escalated when Jensen created a “program” to enhance the performance of some students athletes. The “program,” he said, “would improve the boy’s testosterone production, strength, fitness and overall athletic performance.”
JENSEN LAWSUIT (PDF)
But according to the lawsuit, the “program” was a ruse to further sexually assault the boys. Jensen created levels of the program which used increasingly “more abusive and invasive” sexual abuse.
Jensen would “manually masterbate (sic) the boy to ejaculation,” the lawsuit states, claiming it was necessary for a male trainer because “any sexual arousal would be counterproductive to the production of testosterone.”
The lawsuit alleges the abuse went further and included him performing oral sex on the boys as a way to increase their testosterone production.
“Jensen increased the abuse through levels, eventually to the point where he would forcibly massage the boy’s prostate by anal-digital penetration while performing other sex acts on the boys,” the lawsuit alleges.
The case also names the school district and says it knew Jensen was inappropriately touching the students.
Evidence provided in the court documents states that in January 2016, Jensen posted on Facebook that he wanted to ask for ‘forgiveness’ to anyone he may have hurt ’emotionally or physically’— at one point even reaching out to his victims on Facebook requesting to be their ‘friend’.
School Board member Nancy Larsen declined to comment on Friday.
The National Athletic Trainers’ Association released the following statement on Friday:
The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) and Board of Certification, Inc. (BOC) would like to clarify reports issued today regarding a lawsuit charging James Jensen with multiple cases of sexual abuse. The lawsuit and subsequent media coverage name Jensen as an athletic trainer for a Montana high school, however, he was never certified by the Board of Certification, Inc. (BOC), the national certifying body for athletic trainers. Therefore, he is not, nor has he ever been, an athletic trainer.
Currently, forty-eight states, including Montana, and the District of Columbia require ATs to complete an accredited program by the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) and hold the Board of Certification credential of “Athletic Trainer Certified” (ATC). Athletic trainers also are qualified to apply for a National Provider Identifier (NPI) as healthcare professionals. The taxonomy code for athletic trainers is 2255A2300X.
Athletic trainers (ATs) are highly qualified, multi-skilled health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. Athletic trainers work under the direction of a physician as prescribed by state licensure statutes. The NATA Code of Ethics states the principles of ethical behavior that should be followed in the practice of athletic training.
We will update you as we get more information.