The teenager watched intently Thursday as the man who molested him for three years, William Allan Jacobs, took the witness stand and admitted to what he'd done.

Arms crossed defiantly, the teen never took his eyes off the 68-year-old Jacobs, who once commanded the Minneapolis park police, until Jacobs was led away by a deputy to await a sentence that will put him in prison for 12 to 18 years. Only when the door closed behind Jacobs did he turn to receive his parents' embrace.

On the morning his trial was set to begin, Jacobs pleaded guilty to Thursday to three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and three counts of possessing child pornography. Jacobs' stoic admission ended a case that began when the teenager, then 15, came forward to police in January 2010. He told them Jacobs, a family friend, had been molesting him on camping trips and visits to the man's house and cabin.

Aside from his law enforcement career, Jacobs spent decades as a teacher, camp counselor and coach. Many more alleged victims came forward, so many that prosecutors say Jacobs may have molested dozens of boys over three decades, although those cases are too old to prosecute.

In a statement read by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, the teenager said: "My long nightmare is over."

"The nightmare for this victim, but also dozens of victims, is over," Freeman said. "Bill Jacobs, over a long period of time, abused young men who trusted him."

The long road to a plea

Jacobs' attorney Joe Friedberg said afterward that Jacobs was ready to plead guilty from day one but maintained his innocence on the first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges. Those were dropped.

"He feels he should pay for what he did. He's always felt that," Friedberg said. "Bill Jacobs, despite this aberration, has lived a life other than this part of it that has been exemplary. He's full of remorse."

As Jacobs stood at the witness stand, his voice was steady as he answered, "I agree," and "I did," when he confirmed that he possessed child pornography after Friedberg read graphic descriptions of the materials, which investigators found on his computer during a search of his Deephaven home two years ago.

He was hesitant before he admitted to touching the boy. Jacobs was at times defiant when, over Friedberg's protests, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Judy Johnston pressed him on how many times he molested the boy each year and had him elaborate on how he plotted to get the boy to his home and to his cabin in Lutsen to abuse him.

"Do you agree that as a result of your conduct, this child sustained severe mental anguish?" Johnston asked.

"I can't testify to that." Jacobs said.

"Do you doubt that?" she said. "I have no doubt, no," he responded.

A career in authority

Jacobs, who is also a lawyer, spent much of his career around children or in a position of authority.

He was a camp counselor at Camp Warren in northern Minnesota in the 1960s and 1970s. He taught at the Blake School in 1971-72, and at Breck's Minneapolis campus from 1973 to 1976.

He joined the park police in 1975, rose to the rank of captain and ran the force from 1987 to 2001.

Prosecutors initially asked to admit evidence from between 1962 and 1980, in which 17 boys alleged they were abused. Judge Daniel Moreno ruled in January that prosecutors may present testimony from three boys who alleged that Jacobs molested them.

Friedberg, who partnered with defense attorney Paul Engh, attempted to have Moreno removed from the case because his wife is a Hennepin County prosecutor, although she wasn't involved in the case.

The issue went to the state Supreme Court, which ruled in September that the judge's marriage was not a conflict and that Moreno could remain on the case.

Moreno will sentence Jacobs on April 9.

Abby Simons • 612-673-4921