October 20, 2016 –
The Del Norte District Attorney’s Office announced today that Christopher James Renner (58) of Crescent City, was sentenced by the Honorable Philip M. Schafer this morning to serve twelve (12) years in state prison for continuous sexual abuse upon a child under fourteen. The Del Norte County Probation Department, charged with the responsibility of making sentencing recommendations to the court, reported to the court that they would have recommended probation for Renner if he was eligible but since he was not, that he should only get six (6) years in state prison, the most lenient sentencing option available to the court by law.
Renner pleaded guilty on the morning of trial last month. In addition to pleading guilty, Renner had admitted three special allegations for having substantial sexual conduct with the child, for use of force and that the statute of limitations for the crimes had not expired.
The charges stem from a series of sexual acts that occurred in Renner’s home between 1997 and 1999 involving a juvenile male who was between five and seven years old at the time. Renner had engaged in substantial sexual conduct with the victim on three or more occasions spanning a minimum of three months. Renner had fondled the child’s genitals several times and on one occasion, Renner had forced the child’s hand onto his genitals. Renner had recurring access to the child during that period of time. In February of this year, the District Attorney’s Office became aware of the crimes, conducted the investigation and charged the case.
“I was completely perplexed that our Probation Department felt that Renner should get probation and not even sent to state prison at all for molesting a five to seven year old boy for two years,” said Del Norte District Attorney Dale P. Trigg who personally handled all aspects of the case for the prosecution. “This defendant, by his own admission, took advantage of his position of trust as the father of his son’s best friend, a boy he himself viewed as a family member, to pray upon a boy who was particularly vulnerable and in some of the most formative years of his life. This defendant had regular and recurring access to this boy over the course of two years, when he was between five and seven years old, by opening up his home to him as a ‘safe place’ where he could play with his own son. The Probation Department considered this defendant nothing more than a neighbor to this boy, who the defendant himself considered to be a member of his family, and would not recognize that he had taken advantage of his position of trust. Fortunately, Judge Schafer saw it differently and imposed a just sentence on this defendant who seized upon his own son’s friendship with this boy to take away his innocence,” said Trigg.
The court considered approximately 40 letters of support written for the defendant and the presence of several dozen community members who appeared at the sentencing hearing on his behalf. The defendant’s supporters included many prominent community members, including lawyers, medical professionals, business owners, counselors, a former supervisor, a supervisor-elect and a former judge. “One of the general objectives of sentencing provided by the California Rules of Court is achieving uniformity in sentencing. Any other defendant, who did not have this defendant’s money and resources, who could not hire a very skilled private attorney to represent him and who did not have all of these influential community members in court backing him up would not get six years with these facts. This defendant should be treated no differently,” Trigg argued to the court.
Renner will have to serve 85% of his twelve (12) year sentence before he will be eligible for parole. Additionally, Renner will have to register as a sex offender for life.