MILES CITY – Parties in a massive Miles City sex abuse case involving a former high school athletic trainer met Friday for a formal hearing in Custer County District Court.
The issue was whether state law in place in 1997 could prevent the Miles City Unified School District from being liable in the abuse of 32 former student athletics who say they were sexually abused at the hands of James Jensen.
The question is whether the school district was aware of abuse reported by Jensen and whether a Montana state law in place at the time prevented them from having to report instances of abuse.
Attorneys with the school district said the statute isn’t applicable at that time.
They say the law states abuse only had to be reported by a parent or guardian.
However, attorneys for the 32 plaintiffs in the case say Montana case laws states otherwise. They say a public school district has an obligation to keep children safe.
The district maintains Jensen was a volunteer who did massages at his home.
Attorneys for the plaintiff said they have three witness accounts of abuse being reported and administration looking the other way.
The judge will take a couple of weeks to make a ruling ahead of trial.
Reporting by Andrea Lutz for MTN News