Brynner Phoenix Rennecke, 30, who had already been listed as a high risk sex offender on the state’s sex offender registry, was sentenced on Friday to 10 years in prison followed by three years of supervised probation for possession of child pornography in January.
Under the terms of a plea deal with the state, Rennecke pleaded guilty to four of the Class C felony child pornography possession charges and the state agreed to drop six other Class C felony possession of child pornography charges.
Rennecke was given a flat five year sentence on the first of the charges and a five year sentence on the second charge, which will be served consecutively to the first charge and followed by three years of supervised probation.
North Central District Court Judge Stacy Louser also sentenced Rennecke to five years, all suspended, on each of the remaining two charges. Those sentences are concurrent with the sentence on the second charge and consecutive to the first.
Rennecke will also be required to complete sex offender treatment while in prison and to register as a sex offender. Rennecke must also pay $1,100 in court costs. As a condition of probation, Rennecke will not be able to associate with any children or be near places where children congregate such as schools or parks or to use the internet without permission from a probation officer. Rennecke will receive credit for 288 days already served in the Ward County Jail.
Rennecke uploaded to the internet hundreds of images depicting the sexual abuse of children ranging in age from infants up to about age 12, according to court documents. Rennecke used a neighbor’s Wifi to upload the images.
Ward County Assistant State’s Attorney Tiffany Sorgen said at the sentencing hearing that reading a description of the images that Rennecke had been in possession of had made her sick. Sorgen said a pre-sentence investigation and evaluation conducted with Rennecke indicated that Rennecke had a “horrific” and “pitiable” childhood but that is an explanation, not an excuse.
Rennecke’s defense attorney, Ashley Gulke, said she had felt the need to apologize to Rennecke for the terrible circumstances of Renneke’s childhood. Gulke added that Rennecke has accepted responsibility and knows a bad childhood is not an excuse for possession of child porn.
Rennecke apologized for “reckless behavior” in court on Friday and said, “I really hope this treatment program is going to work for me.”
Rennecke, who appeared in court on Friday with a shaved head, had worn feminine clothes and long hair at previous court appearances. Rennecke is a transgender woman who informally uses the first name Riley. Rennecke is still identified as male on the North Dakota Sex Offender Registry but as female in prison records and was addressed by feminine pronouns in court on Friday.
Rennecke had previously admitted responsibility as a young teenager in juvenile court in Morton County of sexual offenses against multiple children and was later committed to the North Dakota State Hospital as a sexually dangerous individual for about six years before being released and moving to Minot.
Rennecke, who had been committed to the Dakota Girls and Boys Ranch as a teenager, was also convicted of a Class A misdemeanor in district court in Minot for trying to visit former teachers at the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch in August 2017. It is against the law for a registered sex offender to be on school property.
Louser told Rennecke on Friday at the sentencing that the “hybrid sentence” is intended to give Rennecke the maximum amount of time available to go through the prison system’s sex offender treatment program.
“Hopefully this will be the beginning of the end of these behaviors for you,” Louser told Rennecke.
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