Jansen makes initial court appearance


-Travis Svihovec

A Selby man accused of rape in Hughes County made his initial court appearance Thursday in Pierre.

Christopher Jansen, 34, is charged with three counts of first-degree rape. He is being held in the Hughes County jail. He made his appearance via video and was informed of the charges against him.

The only court document currently available in the case is a uniform traffic ticket issued July 29 near Blunt and filed July 30 in Hughes County. The ticket specifies South Dakota Codified Law 22-22-1 (1), which indicates he is accused of raping a child under the age of 13. First-degree rape is a class C felony and carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Search warrants were executed at his Selby home and Mobridge office last week.

Sara Rabern, public information officer for the South Dakota Attorney General’s office, said the fact that the ticket was issued near Blunt does not mean the incidents occurred there.

“That has nothing to do with the actual incidents,” she said. “That’s where he was arrested.”

Hughes County State’s Attorney Wendy Kloeppner requested that the affidavit in support of Jansen’s arrest be sealed because the incidents are still under investigation. No specific information has been released about the victim’s age or the location of the alleged incidents.

No bail amount was set at Jansen’s initial appearance but Rabern said he could file for a modification. His next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 26. Prosecutors still have the option of seeking an indictment from a grand jury. That process would be confidential until it is completed, Rabern said.

Jansen served as state’s attorney in Walworth County for four years, 2009 through 2012. He was defeated in a bid for re-election in November of 2012.

Jansen’s attorney, Joan Powell of Gettysburg, said she hasn’t been through the discovery process because the files are sealed.

“Any comment by me would be inappropriate at this time,” she said.

Jansen’s office in Mobridge is closed. Powell said she will be contacting his former clients so they can make decisions about how their files should be handled. She said they can leave them with her or transfer to another attorney.

“They will all get a letter from me in the next couple days,” she said on Tuesday.

Powell said she is working with the state bar association and following the procedures that apply in this situation. Jansen’s computer files were seized when the search warrants were executed. Powell said she is working with limited client information and paper files only.

“I encourage any former client of Mr. Jansen’s who has not already been contacted, to reach out to me, and know that I am at their service, and that their confidential information is protected and safe,” she said in a prepared statement.



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