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Molester Who Fled in 1981 Won’t Face Long Prison Term

TIMES STAFF WRITER

An admitted child molester’s life on the lam worked to his advantage Monday when a judge handed down a lesser sentence in part because the defendant had lived a crime-free life since fleeing Orange County in 1981.

Fullerton Municipal Judge Stephen J. Sundvold sentenced Stanley H. Jenson, a former Orange County family-law attorney, to four years and eight months in prison.

The judge cited Jenson’s willingness to admit guilt and his apparently crime-free life in Australia, to which he had fled and where he had lived under an assumed name.

Jenson, 46, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of oral copulation with a child under the age of 14 and 11 lewd act charges, all felonies. He also pleaded no contest to giving marijuana to the youth. He could have received a sentence of 31 years, the prosecutor said.

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Before sentencing, Supervising Deputy Dist. Atty. Charles J. Middleton told the judge he would not agree to the sentencing and said Jenson deserved at least 13 years in prison--one year for each year he was on the run. He also suggested in an interview that Jenson might not have had a crime-free life in Australia.

“We feel the court is wrong,” Middleton told the judge before sentencing. In an interview, Middleton said fleeing the county should be considered an aggravating factor in sentencing--not one that benefits the defendant.

“Obviously, that’s where the judge and I disagree,” Middleton said. “He seems to think that this man is not deserving of a long sentence and I don’t know why.”

Middleton said he believed Jenson’s work as an attorney also made him aware of the seriousness of fleeing from prosecution.

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Middleton and La Habra investigator Kirk Lotzgesell say they also disagree with the judge’s belief that Jenson has not had any legal problems since fleeing Orange County.

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His capture made headlines in Orange County, and two men came forward this year to tell police they were molested before 1981 by Jenson when they were young teen-agers. Charges were not filed in those cases because the statute of limitations had expired, officials said.

Lotzgesell said Jenson also had a brush with Australian authorities, who at one point suspected Jenson of improper conduct with a child, although no charges were filed.

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“I don’t think you can look at his case and assume this hasn’t happened before, or this was all a onetime incident,” Lotzgesell said.

The charges date from 1981, when Jenson was accused of molesting a 13-year-old neighbor Jenson had hired to mow his lawn. Before his trial date, though, Jenson liquidated his assets, left behind his law practice and fled to Australia, where he became a stage manager with a theater company and took on a new name, Lotzgesell said.

Jenson learned this year that Australian authorities planned to deport him because he was living there illegally, and he bought tickets to South Africa, Germany and England. He was arrested April 1 in South Africa on an international warrant.

Several months ago, defense attorney Mike McDonnell contended that at the time of his arrest Jenson was on his way back to Orange County to surrender. Sundvold ordered Jenson held in lieu of $2 million bail.

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McDonnell did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment Monday.

Sundvold also fined Jenson $300, ordered him to register with law enforcement officials as a convicted sex offender and placed him on three years’ parole when he is released from prison.

With credit for time served, work and good behavior, Jenson could be released in about two years, officials said.

“It’s very disappointing that the victim is going to have to live with this for the rest of his life, and Mr. Jenson gets released in about two years,” Lotzgesell said.

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