See more of the story

A 57-year-old man known in Princeton, Minn., as “Friendly” the clown has been charged with sexually assaulting a 20-year-old woman with mental difficulties numerous times.

Robert J. Jensen, of Princeton, is scheduled to appear in court next week on three counts of third-degree criminal sexual assault and three counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. Jensen remains held in the Mille Lacs County jail.

Jensen has portrayed “Friendly” and “Bob the Balloon Twister” for the past 20 years or so, offering to drive up to 60 miles from Princeton to put on a “fun-filled show” for children that includes cheek painting and balloon twisting.

“ ‘Having fun daily!’ is not just a fancy slogan with Friendly the clown,” one of his ads read before it was taken down from the Internet. “As a professional clown, that is exactly what he intends to do at your event!”

The woman began living with Jensen and his wife in December while coping with a traumatic brain injury. The criminal complaint described her as a “vulnerable adult with mental health difficulties.”

The complaint did not explain why the woman was residing specifically with the Jensens, and Mille Lacs County Attorney Joe Walsh declined Thursday to address that aspect of the case.

According to the charges:

The woman told a case worker with the county Community and Veterans Services agency about the assaults. She then went to a Princeton hospital on Feb. 1 for a sexual assault exam and told a nurse that Jensen came into her bedroom naked three days earlier, fondled her and left. He then returned that morning and raped her.

While recounting the assaults to police, she told an officer that Jensen said “he was praying for a little girl like her to come around and mess around,” the complaint read. She also described him as usually “nice to her and gives her rides to her community service job and medical appointments.”

The woman told Jensen’s wife, Peggy Ann Jensen, about the assaults. Peggy Ann Jensen confronted her husband, and he denied the accusations.

Robert Jensen refused to speak with law enforcement about the allegations. A court-ordered DNA test confirmed that the semen left on the woman was his.

Jensen was jailed on May 8, with bail set at $100,000. A telephone message was left with his attorney Thursday seeking reaction to the charges.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482