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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Idaho

Principal faces molestation charges

SANDPOINT – The board of a small Christian school in Sandpoint has granted its principal a leave of absence so he can defend himself against charges that he sexually molested one of the school’s students.

Sigard A. Jensen, 59, of Athol, has been charged with one count of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor under 16 and one count of an infamous crime against nature. Jensen is out of jail on a $20,000 bond on the condition that he has no contact with anyone younger than 18.

Jensen is the principal of the ALACCA Christian Academy in Sandpoint. The private school has about 22 students, said school board President Vince Henry. The board recently approved Jensen’s request for a leave of absence so he can prepare for his defense, Henry said.

Henry said the school is “standing behind” Jensen, but “in an official capacity, we’re neutral on the subject.”

Jensen is accused of molesting a male student beginning in 1998, when the student was 13, and continuing through 2002, when the student dropped out, according to court documents.

The alleged abuse, involving oral sex and other acts, began when Jensen was principal of the Southside Christian School in Cocolalla, Idaho, the documents state. That school closed in 2000. Jensen and the alleged victim, among other students, moved to the ALACCA Christian Academy in Sandpoint, which opened in 2001. ALACCA is an acronym for A Lighthouse And Christ Centered Always.

Police learned of the allegations in October 2004 after the accuser, now 19, sought help from a counselor at a Pocatello school.

The 19-year-old told Sandpoint police Detective Corey Coon that Jensen threatened to harm the alleged victim’s sister, who was also a student at ALACCA, if he told anyone of the abuse. After the sister graduated, the victim again asked Jensen to stop the abuse or he would go to the police, he told Coon. The sexual abuse stopped, but Jensen continued to harass the victim with name-calling, according to Coon’s testimony in court late last week.

The student eventually dropped out.

Henry said the allegations don’t fit the principal’s character. Jensen is married with five children and is an upstanding citizen, he said. At a school meeting Monday evening, “all the families represented themselves there, and they’re all in support of Mr. Jensen,” Henry said.

“You can tell a person’s lifestyle by the fruits of his life. If you go by that, his declaration of innocence is valid,” Henry said. “It’s a wonderful family, the school itself and the people involved are true believers, not radical, but true believers; very solid, very good people.”

Jensen could not be reached for comment.

A preliminary hearing on the charges has been scheduled for Feb. 23.

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