Mother testifies in suit against Mormon Church
By Kelsie Lerose
January 31, 2018
MARTINSBURG — The civil case alleging members of the Mormon Church had covered up sexual abuse by the son of church leaders continued its second full week Tuesday with Sandra Lee Jensen taking the stand as a witness for the plaintiffs.
Sandra Lee Jensen is the mother of the Christopher Michael Jensen–who is serving 35 to 75 years in prison for sexually abusing two minors at the ages of 4 and 3.
The lawsuit, filed in 2013, accuses the church and its leaders of actively covering up the abuse and assisting Michael Jensen in committing further acts by enabling him to babysit for and live with other church families with young children.
Nine families are involved in the lawsuit against the church, Jensen’s parents Chris and Sandra Lee Jensen, and church officials Steven Grow and Don Fishel.
Michael Jensen was initially accused of sexual abuse in 2004 in Provo, Utah, where he was arrested at his middle school and charged with two felony counts of sexual abuse for allegedly pinning two 12-and 13-year-old females against a wall and fondling them inappropriately without consent. A plea agreement was reached in the case, which resulted in the charges being reduced to two misdemeanor counts of lewdness.
In 2007, Jensen was accused of fondling a 14-year-old girl outside of a movie theater in Martinsburg. According to court records, Jensen’s mother allegedly knew about the theater incident and asked the girl if she was OK and if there was “a problem.” No criminal charges were filed.
The victim testified in court last week that she did not consent during the incident, according to Carl Kravitz, an attorney for the plaintiffs.
He asked Sandra Lee Jensen Tuesday if the victim’s allegations would suprise her to which she responded: “Yes, it would.”
The suit also accuses church officials, including Sandra Lee Jensen, of recommending Jensen as a babysitter for church families, despite allegedly being made aware of sexual abuse allegations as early as 2007.
“At the time, I didn’t think others needed to know that,” Sandra Lee Jensen said Tuesday about the 2004 and 2007 incidents.
She added that both incidents were between teenagers who were “experimenting,” and she believed they were consensual because of what Michael Jensen told her. She said she believed Michael Jensen was“absolutely not” a danger to young children.
Kravitz also focused Tuesday afternoon on whether Sandra Lee Jensen knew Michael Jensen was ordered to complete sexual abuse counseling after the Provo, Utah case.
An exhibit was submitted to evidence which contained an order from the court following the Provo incident. Sandra Lee Jensen testified she was aware Michael Jensen was ordered to probation and to complete 100 hours of community service as stated in the order, however, she said she doesn’t remember signing anything about the court order of treatment.
The plaintiffs also submitted several exhibits that were emails either sent or received by Sandra Lee about coordinating babysitting for families in need as Relief Society President.
As stated during the defense’s opening arguments, the church has said it does not run a babysitting service.
Kravitz is scheduled to continue his questioning of Sandra Lee Jensen Wednesday followed by cross-examination by attorneys of the offense.