A 74-year-old man who lives in Lake Mills part time has been charged with one count of possessing child pornography after he shared a video of himself and a 15-year-old male victim engaging in sex acts on Facebook Messenger.
Daniel W. Renner, primarily of Chicago, appeared in Jefferson County Circuit Court by videoconference Tuesday for a bond hearing, where his cash bond was set at $10,000 with the non-monetary conditions that he not leave the country, surrender his passport and have no contact with the victim or any minor.
If convicted, Renner faces a maximum sentence of 25 years’ imprisonment and a $100,000 fine. The charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of three years’ initial confinement.
In court Tuesday, Public Service Special Prosecutor Melanie Flint requested the high cash bond and the passport revocation because Renner owns a home in Nicaragua and had been planning a trip to the central American country early this month.
“The state believes he’s a flight risk unless there’s a significant amount on the line,” Flint said.
She added because of the substantial penalty associated with the charge, it was important to insure Renner appeared at any later court dates.
In mid-December, the Lake Mills Police Department received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) regarding a video of sexually explicit contact between an adult male and juvenile male that had been uploaded to Facebook, according to the criminal complaint.
The video was uploaded April 27, 2019 by Renner’s Facebook account and originated from an IP address — an identification number unique to any device connected to the internet — associated with Renner’s Lake Mills address, the complaint states.
The NCMEC tip also included messages between Renner and the recipient of the video message — who police believe is the teenager depicted in the video, according to the complaint. In the additional messages, Renner and the recipient seem to be planning another meeting and discuss the contents of the video.
In the video, the two are in a Ford vehicle while the victim performs sex acts from the passenger seat, the complaint states.
Police eventually identified the passenger in the video and interviewed him. In that interview, the 15-year-old said he was picked up by an older male named Dan. The teenager’s phone also included nude photographs of Renner and chat conversations between the two, according to the complaint.
The Lake Mills Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant at Renner’s home Jan. 5 when he was taken into custody, the complaint states. While speaking with an officer, Renner admitted to texting with the victim but denied having a relationship with him. Renner also told the officer he was retired from a career in education.
An analysis of Renner’s phone found multiple images that appear to match the video included in the cyber tip, the complaint states. Renner also owns a Ford vehicle and was in possession of a key chain that appears to match one seen in the video, according to the complaint.
Renner is scheduled to appear in court again Jan. 16 at 1:15 p.m. for a status on his legal representation.
The investigation is ongoing and it's likely additional charges will be added, the District Attorney's Office said.