Accused athletic trainer’s daughter: ‘This has to change’

January 17, 2019
Kristen Newby, right, listens as state Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell takes a question during a news conference on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, in Helena, Mont. Newby, who says she is the daughter of a former Montana high school athletic trainer accused of abusing teenage boys, says she supports a bill that would lift the statute of limitations for sex offenses against children. (AP Photo/Matt Volz)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Kristen Newby isn’t ashamed. She doesn’t want the long string of horrible sexual abuses her father is being accused of in Miles City to be swept under the rug.

The Helena woman doesn’t want to see another situation where a child abuser can get away with it because the legal clock ran out, Lee Newspapers of Montana reported .

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 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.