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Man convicted of groping women at BYU sentenced to probation

Former BYU student Jacob Scott Hansen was ordered to serve three years of probation after groping at least three women.
Former BYU student Jacob Scott Hansen was ordered Monday to serve three years of probation after groping at least three women who were jogging or walking on or near the Provo campus.
BYU police

A former BYU student convicted of groping three women on and around the Provo campus was ordered Monday to serve three years of probation.

But if Jacob "Jack" Scott Hansen, 26, fails to continue with his counseling, he could spend a year in jail.

In August, Hansen pleaded guilty in 4th District Court to a total of three counts of sexual battery, a class A misdemeanor, in three separate cases.

On March 27 and 28, Hansen groped three women who were either walking or jogging on the campus of Brigham Young University or just off campus in Provo. At one point, Hansen was accused by police of inappropriately touching up to six women. He typically came up from behind women who were walking or jogging alone and grabbed them, or in one case, wrapped his arms around a woman, according to charging documents.

After his arrest on March 29, Hansen — then a senior at BYU — told police that he targeted one of the women on impulse and said groping "gives him a short release that helps him reset," the charges state.

On Monday, Hansen appeared for his sentencing via video from his home just outside of Dallas, where he moved in with his parents in May.

Since moving to Texas, Hansen has been seeing a psychiatrist for mental health issues once a week and taking undisclosed medication, his family told 4th District Judge Kraig Powell. They said he is also seeing a sexual behavioral therapist once a week and a psychiatrist once or twice a month.

Susanne Gustin, Hansen's attorney, said her client's mental health issues, which also include being autistic, "explains his behavior in a lot of ways (but) it doesn't excuse it."

Gustin asked the court to place Hansen on probation and allow him to continue with his treatment in Texas where he also has his support system and is "surrounded by parents and people who care about him."

"He's just going to do better if he's in Texas because he has everything set up in place," she said.

The problem is there is no state agency or private company in Texas that can supervise Hansen. Powell could have required him to be placed under state supervised probation, which would have required Hansen to move back to Utah. Gustin said that option would have been "expensive and cumbersome" for Hansen and his family.

When Powell asked prosecutors if they agreed with court-ordered probation, deputy Utah County attorney Doug Smith said he was OK with it as long as reports from Hansen's therapists are submitted regularly.

"When he stops checking in and we stop getting reports, he goes to jail," Smith said.

Smith requested that Hansen be sentenced to a year in jail but that the sentence be suspended. The purpose was to hold the possibility of going to jail "over his head" so Hansen would follow through with the conditions of his probation, Smith said.

Smith then asked the judge to also include in his sentencing that unless he's in the state to serve jail time, that Hansen not be allowed to come back.

"I don't want him back in Utah," Smith said.

The judge seemed taken aback by the request, noting that Smith seemed interested in protecting only the people of Utah but not Texas,

"I'm troubled by that position," he told the prosecutor before saying he would not impose that restriction.

Powell then told Hansen that after reading through all the reports, he found the case to be very troubling. And what troubled him the most was Hansen's apparent lack of remorse for his victims,

"This is not a simple innocent one-off deal," the judge said. "I did not perceive a significant amount of remorse for the people who were affected by this behavior."

It was then Hansen's turn to address the judge before being sentenced.

"I am deeply sorry for my actions," he said. "I'd like to take this time to apologize for everyone affected by my actions, especially my victims. ... More than anything, I hope they can find peace."

Hansen said he is taking steps to make sure he doesn't repeat his behavior by getting help from his therapists for things such as impulse control.

"I am hungry to set things right," he said.

Hansen said that because of his autism, it is harder for him to understand the feelings of others affected by his actions. He also apologized to BYU, saying it "never crossed my mind" that his actions would affect the school and its honor code.

"I'm confident I will never do this again," he said.

Seemingly satisfied with Hansen's apology, Powell then sentenced him to three years of probation and allowed him to remain in Texas, and ordered that his therapists provide written reports on his progress to the Utah County Attorney's Office every 60 days. Hansen was then sentenced to a year in jail for each of the three cases he was convicted of, with that jail time suspended. However, if he commits another offense or drops out of therapy, a warrant could be issued for his arrest to serve his jail time in Utah.

"Now you've got to back (your promises) up. You've got to do what you said," the judge told Hansen.