The Miles City Unified School District on Monday denied that its staff knew anything about a former employee who was allegedly abusing students for nearly two decades.

The denial comes in response to a lawsuit filed on behalf of 19 former students who allege James “Doc” Jensen, now 78, groomed and sexually abused teen athletes in his role as an uncertified “athletic trainer” from the early 1970s to around 1998. The National Athletic Trainers' Association points out, however, that Jensen lacked the proper credential and "is not, nor has he ever been an athletic trainer." 

The suit names the school district, Custer County District High School and John Does 1-200 representing any school employee who may have known about the alleged abuse but failed to stop it.

According to the Missoulian, MCUSD does not deny that abuse took place but argues that the school should not be held liable. A cross-complaint against Jensen alleges fraud, saying that he "intentionally and fraudulently misled the School District."

During his tenure, Jensen implemented what he called “The Program,” a system he said would boost testosterone levels in young men. To lift testosterone levels, Jensen convinced the boys that he would need to masturbate them. The suit also alleges that Jensen performed physicals on the boys despite having no medical certification.

MCUSD acknowledges that it received a complaint about Jensen from a parent in 1997.

"The School District further admits that the complaint received was investigated and, upon information and belief, involved 'general' unease and not the specific concerns of the present complaint," the response states. 

After further investigating the complaint, MCUSD says it found two other students who had similar complaints but was unable to demonstrate anything more than Jensen making the students feel uncomfortable. By Dec. 15 of 1997, the district says it "directed Jensen regarding 'appropriate student/staff interactions'" and directed him to work under supervision of coaches, not to give massages or "body rub downs" without supervision, "to not have students at his house, and to not otherwise mentor students."

When Jensen’s stipend ended in May of 1998, MCUSD did not renew Jensen’s contract.

Andy Berg is Executive Editor of Athletic Business.