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Transgender sex offender charged after trying to visit old teachers at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

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MINOT -- A 27-year-old high risk registered sex offender, transgender and former student at the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch near Minot has been charged with a Class A misdemeanor for allegedly trying to visit former teachers at the ranch.

Brynner Phoenix Rennecke, Minot, who is also informally known as Riley Lilian Grace Byerly, is charged with unlawful presence of a sexual offender near schools. The offense carries a maximum sentence of 360 days in prison and up to $3,000 in fines.

Rennecke is listed as a male on the North Dakota Sex Offenders Registry but female pronouns and the female given name are used in the probable cause affidavit filed with the court. Rennecke is currently transitioning from male to female, according to a probable cause affidavit filed with the court.

Rennecke made an initial appearance on the charge in district court in Minot on Thursday before Judge Doug Mattson. Mattson set bond at $7,500 cash or corporate surety and ordered Rennecke to have no contact with anyone under age 18 or with the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch.

Ward County Assistant State's Attorney Christopher Nelson said Rennecke could be a danger to the community.

Rennecke plans to apply for a court-appointed lawyer and has no job.

Rennecke petitioned for a legal name change to Riley Byerly in district court in Stutsman County in July 2015, but a judge denied the petition. There is a presumption under state law that a convicted felon should not be allowed to change his name unless he has proven that it will not defraud or mislead the public or compromise public safety. At the time of the petition, Rennecke was committed to the state hospital in Jamestown as a sexually dangerous individual.

According to court documents on the sex offender charge, Rennecke arrived at the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch campus near Minot at 3 p.m. on Aug. 30. The school principal called police to report her concern about Rennecke being on the campus and around minor students. Rennecke arrived on the campus with two other people and wanted to visit Rennecke's old teachers. Rennecke told police they should have called ahead before making their visit.

Registered sex offenders are not allowed on a school campus.

All of Rennecke's sex offenses occurred in Morton County Juvenile Court when Rennecke was a young teenager. According to the online sex offenders registry, Rennecke admitted responsibility in January 2006, at age 15, to fondling a 13-year-old girl against the girl's wishes and of trying to have sex with a 10-year-old girl on two different occasions. In treatment, Rennecke later admitted to molesting five young children between 2003 and 2005, some in a day care setting. At the time of the offenses, Rennecke was younger than 15. No sex offense convictions are listed on Rennecke's record once Rennecke became an adult.

Rennecke was interviewed in 2014 for an article on sex offenders who had been civilly committed to the state hospital in Jamestown. According to the story, Rennecke had been in the program since 2008, worked in the woodworking shop at the state hospital and was serious about the treatment program and learning the skills needed to be successful.


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