Federal charges filed against Christopher Jansen

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Federal charges against former Walworth County State’s Attorney Christopher Jansen were revealed Monday, Aug. 11, as the complaint against Jansen was unsealed at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Pierre.

On Tuesday, July 29, after search warrants were executed at Jansen’s law office located in the Bridge City Publishing building on East Grand Crossing and his residence in Selby, Jansen, 34, was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree rape by the state of South Dakota. The unsealed complaint outlines the federal charges Jansen is facing.

According to court papers from the Aug. 11 hearing, Jansen was charged on two counts, sexual exploitation of a child and distribution of material involving the sexual exploitation of minors.

The penalty for the first count of sexual exploitation of a child is a minimum of 15 and not more than 30 years in custody, a $250,000 fine, or both, and a mandatory minimum of five years up to life of supervised release.

Mandatory minimum penalty for the second count is five and not more than 20 years custody, a $250,000 fine, or both, and a mandatory minimum of five years up to life of supervised release.

If at any time he were found to have violated any conditions during the period of the supervised release, he would face an additional five years to life for each violation plus fines and restitution.

During the hearing, Jansen voluntarily waived his right to a preliminary hearing and a detention hearing.

The following is a shortened version of the unsealed complaint.

On count one of the complaint, it states that sometime between Dec. 1, 2013 and July 27, 2014, Jansen did knowingly distribute, using any means and facility of interstate and foreign commerce, including by computer, images which involved the use of a minor under the age of 18, engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

It goes on to state that FBI Special Agent Alicia A. Rowland requested and was granted a search warrant Monday, July 29, for Jansen’s law office and residence to search for evidence of the production of child pornography; advertising, attempting to advertise, and conspiracy to advertise child pornography; receipt and distribution of, conspiracy to receive and distribute, and attempt to receive and distribute child pornography; and knowingly access, conspiracy to access, or attempted access with intent to view child pornography.

A South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation agent informed Rowland that the search of a computer had revealed the presence of media that contained child pornography images and videos.

During an interview with both FBI and DCI agents, Jansen indicated he was a member of a website that is used to distribute child pornography. He also admitted that since December of 2013, he has been a member of that website and has himself distributed materials containing child pornography to other members of that website and also received materials containing child pornography from other members of that website.

Jansen indicated he himself has produced videos and images involving minors under the age of 18 engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

He also described a sexual relationship with the young son of a family in Hughes County, who were Jansen’s clients. Jansen was the Walworth County State’s Attorney during the time of the sexual relationship. Jansen admitted to having had many sexual encounters with the boy and also admitted video taping eight of these encounters. Jansen said he also produced six to seven images of these encounters and maintains those on a computer media within his home.

The last incident occurred in 2013 after Jansen had been defeated in the November election and had resigned his position in as state’s attorney.

The complaint also said that Jansen told FBI agents that he had sexual contact with at least three minors during this time period but only produced video and photos with two of the minors. He admitted distributing some of these images.

According to the complaint, Jansen refers to himself as a pedophile. He said he discovered he was attracted to young boys at about 10 years old. According to Rowland, Jansen told the agents he has tried to manage his desires but sometimes loses control.

Agents also interviewed Jansen’s boyfriend of 15 years, Franklin Gross of Selby, during the July 29 investigation. Gross told agents he has been aware of Jansen’s attraction to young males since college and that Jansen had viewed pornography to satisfy his desires.

Because of the age of the victims involved, part of the complaint will remain sealed.

South Dakota authorities have arrested Jansen for state law violations related to his sexual encounters with minors. Current Walworth County State’s Attorney Jamie Hare said Tuesday that it is yet undecided if Jansen will face local charges. It will depend on the federal and state cases, he said.

Jansen is scheduled to appear in Hughes County Court on Tuesday, Aug. 26, to face the state charges. The three counts of rape of a minor carry a possible life sentence for each count.

The FBI and the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation are conducting the investigation, with assistance from the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office and the Mobridge Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Maher and Keith Becker, a trial attorney with the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Department of Justice, are prosecuting the case.

Jansen was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending further hearings. No trial date for the federal charges has been set.

– Katie Zerr –

 

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