Transgender registered sex offender to go to trial on charge of visiting former teachers at Dakota Boys Ranch

A 27-year-old high risk sex offender will go to trial Feb. 8 in district court in Minot on a Class A misdemeanor charge of unlawful presence of a sexual offender near schools.

Brynner Phoenix Rennecke, who is also informally known as Riley Lillian Grace Byerly, allegedly tried to visit former teachers at the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch on Aug. 30. Staff there alerted authorities and Rennecke was then placed under arrest.

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 and also wore female clothing at a court appearance on Wednesday.

Rennecke admitted in Morton County Juvenile Court to committing sexual offenses against multiple victims when Rennecke was under the age of 15.

Rennecke was later committed to the North Dakota State Hospital in Jamestown as a sexually dangerous offender and later released. Rennecke filed for a legal name change to Riley Byerly in district court in Stutsman County in July 2015, claiming the name better represents who she is, but a judge denied the petition.

At a court hearing in Minot on Wednesday, Rennecke’s lawyer, Raissa Carpenter, asked North Central District Court Judge Doug Mattson to order a pre-sentence investigation in anticipation that the case might be resolved ahead of trial. Judges can order a pre-sentence investigation but are not allowed to look at the report unless there is a conviction or guilty plea. Mattson refused to order a pre-sentence investigation unless the prosecution and defense have notified him that there is a plea agreement that has been worked out. Carpenter said that Rennecke currently wants to go to trial on the Class A misdemeanor charge, which carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $3,000 fine.

– Andrea Johnson