Daughter of AD accused of sexual abuse: Child molesters shouldn’t be able to ‘get away’ with it
MILES CITY, Mont. — Kristen Newby isn’t ashamed. She doesn’t want the long string of horrible sexual abuses her father is being accused of to be swept under the rug. The Helena, Montana woman doesn’t want to see another situation where a child abuser can get away with it because the legal clock ran out.
Newby’s father is James “Doc” Jensen, a former Miles City High School athletic trainer who admitted to The Billings Gazette in September that he had sexually molested many former students between the late-1970s and 1998.
While Jensen has been accused of molesting as many as 100 boys and has admitted to some of the abuses — and even reached out to some of his victims on social media earlier this year to apologize — he’ll never do time in state prison for any of those alleged crimes.
That’s because the statute of limitations for crimes against children had expired by the time Jensen started tracking down his alleged victims in 2017, who are all now adults.
The immense unfairness of it struck Newby deeply enough that on Wednesday, Jan. 16 she stood before dozens of strangers at the state Capitol, a building she had never been in before, to talk about what her father had done and why she never wants anyone else to get away with it.
“I’m willing to stand up and say this has to change,” Newby said after testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on legislation to eliminate the statute of limitations for sex crimes against children. She also appeared at a press conference held by Democrats who brought the bill.
The legislation would not affect Jensen’s case because it would only apply only to crimes still within the current statute, in addition to all crimes going forward.
“There are systems in place that protected Jim for a very long time and he was able to get away with what he did for such a long time because of that,” Newby said. “And now the judicial system is working in his favor as well. Regardless of whether it has any effect on his case or not, for future generations this can’t happen again.”
Newby is 40 and lives in Helena now. She went back to Miles City a few weeks ago for the first time since news about Jensen broke widely last fall. Growing up in that small town, Newby said she both knew who and what Jensen was in one sense, and at the same time didn’t know him at all.
After her parents divorced when she was around 13 or 14, she lived in the same home as Jensen only for short periods, three months here and three months there.
“I have no idea what he was like then. I knew he was involved in sports and things like that, but he never had students in our home or anything like that. Just after my mom and he got divorced was when people started coming over,” Newby said. ” … Now when I try to think back on who was there, I can tell you there was eight to 12 people there every night, but I can’t tell you who they were because I sort of wanted to depersonalize it. I never really wanted to put a face on (what was happening).”
Newby hasn’t seen Jensen in about 12 years and hasn’t been in contact with him.
“I guess I was shocked to see the full (extent of) what he had done, because … I knew who he was and the type of person he was and so I wasn’t shocked,” she said. “I was just shocked by the extent of it. … I know who Jim was. I just didn’t know what he’d done. I never really knew him.”
Jensen has been named in a civil lawsuit brought by 31 men who attended Miles City High School during Jensen’s tenure. The men say Jensen used his position as athletic trainer to groom them and con them into a program he promised would enhance their athletic performance. Part of that program allegedly included him masturbating the boys and probing them anally during what should have been routine physical exams. The men allege the assaults happened on both school property and at Jensen’s home.
The 78-year-old Jensen faces no charges related to those alleged crimes. He is in jail on 10 state charges of possessing child pornography and a federal charge of using the internet to entice a minor into sexual activity.
“I just don’t understand how everything has always worked in his favor,” Newby said. “That he waited until his youngest victim was right at the 20-year (statute of limitations) mark before he started contacting (his victims). I believe that it was to further torment them because he thought he was in the clear. … Jim wins, that’s what I thought. Jim wins. It’s just so unfair. I don’t know what else to say. It’s just so unfair.”
Newby wants to focus now on protecting future generations, since there doesn’t appear to be a way to punish Jensen criminally.
“He’s old enough now that it’s not like he has enough life left to really serve, pay for what he did. That’s not even the point,” Newby said. “I don’t know that this will affect the Miles City situation in any way, but at this point I just want to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. I’m glad that people know who he is before he (dies).”