No prison time for local man accused of abusing 2 children, victims call him ‘monster’

At an emotional sentencing on Monday, Jerry Jensen’s victims fought tears as they spoke of their disappointment in the judicial system, how the court failed women and how Jensen was “a monster.”

The victims outlined graphic details of sexual abuse allegations and vivid memories from their childhood that continue to haunt them.

The Nampa man initially charged with five sex crimes involving two children pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and will serve no time in prison, instead serving 10 years of probation.

Jensen, 48, pleaded guilty in Canyon County in August to felony injury to child and pursuant to a plea agreement, the sex crime charges were dismissed.

3rd Judicial District Judge Davis VanderVelde ordered Jensen to serve 10 years of probation, with an underlying sentence of three to 10 years in prison that could be imposed, should he violate his probation.

Canyon County Deputy Prosecutor Anne Voss told the judge that she agreed to the deal because she was concerned there was not enough evidence, other than victim testimony, to convict Jensen at trial. That was why she agreed to the injury to child plea, because there was more evidence of physical, non-sexual, abuse of the children.

Voss said “this is not an attack on their credibility,” referencing the two girls sitting behind her in the courtroom, but it was important to the state that Jensen be convicted of something, even if it was a lesser charge. Voss noted that if she did not believe the victims, she would be legally required to dismiss the case outright, which she did not and would not do.

“So I hope at some point and time, they can understand why I did what I did,” Voss said in court.

Prior to sentencing, one of the victims said she didn’t think “it was worth it to come out about our story” if a lighter sentence was imposed.

At least 10 people wearing “Bikers Against Child Abuse” black leather vests, noting the Treasure Valley Chapter, sat in the first-floor courtroom surrounding the victims and blocking them from Jensen’s view while waiting for the judge to take up the case.

Because the charge of injury to child is not a sex crime, Jensen will not be required to register as a sex offender. There will be a no contact order in place between Jensen and the victims for 10 years.

Jensen’s arrest came after the girls went to police in October 2018, to inform them that the sexual abuse had spanned as long as 15 years, according to the victims’ statements. Jensen was initially charged with two counts of lewd conduct with a child younger than age 16 and three counts of sexual battery by lewd and lascivious acts with a child 16 or 17 years of age.

The Idaho Statesman does not name the victims of alleged sexual assault.

“I don’t think he should be able to walk out of this courthouse today,” one victim told the judge. “... I can’t sleep, I can’t breathe.”

She explained that she felt as if her word was not good enough, a concept that she felt many victims struggle with.

This is the reason people don’t come out about their stories,” the girl told the judge, choking back sobs.

The other victim spoke in court, asking the judge to impose the maximum sentence. She felt that the court had a responsibility to teach men and boys that what the suspect did “was wrong.”

Prior to the plea agreement, Jensen was looking at a maximum punishment of up to life in prison. An injury to child charge carries a maximum punishment of up to 10 years in prison.

Jensen’s bond was initially set at $400,000 when he was arrested in November 2018, but after his plea, he was released from jail on Aug. 30. When he appeared in court Monday, he was out of custody.

Defense attorney Chad Gulstrom argued that his client had no criminal history and had been compliant since he was released on pre-trial release.

Jensen apologized to the victims in court, saying he was “deeply sorry” for his actions.

“I can’t change the past, but I am changing the now,” Jensen told the court. “I am not the person that I was. I have a level of experience and insight that has given me the opportunity to grow.”

Prior to handing down his sentence, VanderVelde said that while he was well aware the case started as a sexual battery and lewd conduct case, he must look at the charge Jensen pleaded guilty to when issuing a sentence.

“I have no doubt that your behavior has caused tremendous harm,” VanderVelde told Jensen in court.

Need help?

The Faces of Hope Victim Center is available for victims in need of emergency services at 417 S. 6th St. in Boise. Victims should call 911 in emergencies or call 208-577-4400 on weekdays during business hours. Faces of Hope provides free medical care and forensic examinations for victims, as well as assistance with filing police reports and mental health care.

Survivors who may need help are also encouraged to contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

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Reporter Ruth Brown covers the criminal justice and correctional systems in Idaho. She focuses on breaking news, public safety and social justice. Prior to coming to the Idaho Statesman, she was a reporter at the Idaho Press-Tribune, the Bakersfield Californian and the Idaho Falls Post Register.