BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Court records say law enforcement officers did not pursue charges in an eastern Montana school sex abuse case despite the suspect’s confession 17 years ago.

The previous admission came to light in a sentencing recommendation filed Friday by a public defender for 79-year-old James Jensen. Jensen pleaded guilty to coercing boys into sexual abuse under the guise of improving their athletic performance while he worked as an athletic trainer in Miles City from the 1970s until about 1998.

Federal prosecutors are seeking up to 15 years in prison. Jensen’s attorney is asking for eight years in a medical care unit, citing Jensen’s declining health and earlier confession.

Babcock said the state cited the statute of limitations and the ages of the boys in deciding not to file charges in 2003. It is unclear why federal charges weren’t filed.