Retired Miles City athletic trainer admits to sexual abuse of student-athletes

A Miles City man admits a civil complaint alleging he sexually abused student-athletes while serving as the athletic trainer for Custer County District High School is true.

The civil complaint filed September 21 alleges James E. Jensen sexually abused and/or sexually assaulted as many as 200 student-athletes under his care. 

The complaint states Jensen served as an athletic trainer for the district from the 1970s until approximately 1998.

The complaint states Jensen, who was known as "Doc" despite not being a licensed medical doctor, performed certain tasks such as checking for hernias during sports physicals.

The complaint states the athletes receiving these checks were males in grades 7 - 12.

The complaint states: 

Over his tenure as athletic trainer, Jensen handled the genitals of hundreds of student athletes, while on school grounds, despite lacking appropriate medical qualifications to do so.

The complaint also states:

As an athletic trainer, Jensen would use 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 clothes regardless of the the location of the injury on the body. Jensen would routinely massage and conduct ultrasound on groin and genitals even when there was no injury to those areas.

The complaint states some of the boys did report to coaches they were uncomfortable with Jensen, but the coaching staff insisted they receive treatment in spite of their objections.

The complaint also outlines what Jensen refers to as "the program." This was a tier-based "treatment program" those involved were told would help boost testosterone and help make them better athletes. This program allegedly took place in the various homes Jensen has had in Miles City over the years.

The complaint states Jensen would tell a student-athlete his testosterone level was decreasing as a ploy to coerce the boy into moving up to the next level.

 Then Jensen would explain that it was necessary for him to perform oral sex on the boy in order for the boy's testosterone production to improve. Jensen performed oral sex in this manner on multiple boys.

The complaint states coaches were aware of "special massages" performed by Jensen on student-athletes and were known to joke about them.

The complaint also states Jensen's employment as the athletic trainer for the district only ended after a parent complained in 1998. The complaint states the district did not inform other parents of the issue and did not offer counseling services.

The complaint also states:

On January, 26, 2016 Jensen posted to his Facebook page that he "want{ed} to ask for forgiveness from anyone I may have hurt emotionally or physically during my 28 years as the Cowboy Trainer":

KULR-8 spoke with James Jensen by phone. We asked about the allegations outlined in the complaint and Jensen told KULR-8 they were true.

When asked about "the program," Jensen said it was true as well. When asked about what "the program" involved, Jensen said he would rather not explain the details.

When asked what he wanted to say specifically to student-athletes and their families Jensen said: 

I am sorry if I caused them any distress mentally or physically. I'm sorry I did what I did. 

The complaint requests a public trial be held and requests the district issue letters of apology to all of the plaintiffs and any other unknown victims. The complaint also requests the apology be published in the Miles City Star and annually in the paper for a period of 5 years.

The complaint also asks the district to implement a policy that only certified athletic trainers are the only district employees permitted to provide athletic training care to its student-athletes.

Attorney John Heenan explains:

They can never be made whole but it's high time the district take action to work to make them a little bit more whole for what happened. and that includes things like counseling and other things so that they can work to get past this obvious trauma.

KULR-8 has reached out to the superintendent of Custer County Schools for comment.

A website has been established to identify and assist witnesses and victims. You can visit it by clicking here.

You can review the complaint and the demand for equitable relief below.

Editor's Note: Late Friday afternoon, KULR-8 was contacted by the National Athletic Trainers' Association regarding the charges against James Jensen:

"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."

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