TWIN FALLS — A Twin Falls Police officer was charged Monday with sexually abusing at least two pre-teen girls within the last 11 years. The alleged crimes happened before he was a police officer, but a sheriff’s investigator said he believes “many more” victims will be uncovered.
William Anthon Jansen, 33, of Twin Falls faces four felony counts of lewd conduct with a minor under 16 and one misdemeanor count of disseminating material harmful to a minor. He’s accused of touching the girls’ genitals with his hands.
Jansen, a patrol officer, was placed on paid administrative leave when the allegations surfaced March 31, Twin Falls city spokesman Joshua Palmer said.
His leave was switched to unpaid when he was officially charged Monday, Twin Falls Police Chief Craig Kingsbury said.
“As soon as we found out about the allegations, we forwarded to the sheriff’s office for investigation,” Palmer said. “Then they conducted their investigation.”
Jansen never worked as a school resource officer, Palmer said, and Kingsbury referred questions to the sheriff’s department when asked if Jansen could have accessed new victims in his role as a police officer.
Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs said he’ll ask an outside prosecutor to handle the case “because of the fact the accused person is a local police officer.”
“So I won’t have any comment on that case,” Loebs said.
Jansen denied the allegations in an interview with sheriff’s detectives Friday. His attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
A teenage girl came forward with the allegations two weeks ago, saying Jansen sexually abused her in 2008 and 2009 when she was between 7 and 9 years old. She told a sheriff’s detective that Jansen also abused at least two other girls — one who has since died, and another who said Jansen abused her when she was 8 years old, in 2005 and 2006.
“Based on my training and experience and the evidence gathered in this investigation, I believe more victims will be uncovered through the course of this investigation and Jansen remains a threat to society and any current/future victims,” Detective Travis DeBie wrote. “It took these victims many years to come forward. I believe we will uncover many more.”
Jansen was hired by the city police department in December 2013 and sworn-in March 2014 after completing training. According to his biography at that time, he was a sergeant in the Idaho Army National Guard and completed two combat deployments to Iraq.
Jansen’s ex-wife told sheriff’s investigators Jansen admitted to “inappropriately touching juvenile girls” and to having sex with a 17-year-old roommate that lived with them while they were married. She also told investigators that Jansen was sent home dishonorably from his Mormon mission “due to a sexual incident that occurred.”
His ex-wife also told detectives Jansen disclosed to his Mormon bishop that “he had inappropriate contact with juveniles.”
Jansen told detectives he was never alone with the girls he’s accused of abusing, one of whom said Jansen showed her a book depicting sexual acts the first time he assaulted her. He admitted to having sex with the roommate but said he believed she was 18 years old.
A magistrate judge set Jansen’s bond at $100,000 during an initial appearance Monday and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 21.