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Man sentenced to time served for ‘indecent acts’ in Abbotsford

Richard Renning has already completed his 16-month jail term on four charges
Richard Renning has been sentenced on four charges, including two for committing indecent acts in Abbotsford. (Facebook photo)

A man who committed two indecent acts in Abbotsford, after 11 prior convictions for the same offence, has been sentenced to time served.

Richard Renning, 57, was sentenced Tuesday (April 23) in Abbotsford provincial court to 16 months, but the credit he received for time served in pre-sentence custody means he will serve no further jail time.

Renning will now be on probation for two years.

He previously pleaded guilty to four charges – two for committing an indecent act in a public place and two for breaching his conditions.

Speaking at the sentencing hearing, Crown counsel Kimberly Jansen said the first incident occurred on March 22, 2023, when a woman reported to police that she had seen a man masturbating in Ellwood Park on Maclure Road.

Jansen said when police arrived, two other witnesses reported seeing the man performing a lewd act, but officers were unable to locate him.

The Abbotsford Police Department released a composite sketch of the suspect on April 26, 2023. This resulted in another witness coming forward to say she had also seen the man in Ellwood Park, but the woman was unable to identify the suspect from photos – including of Renning – that police showed her, Jansen said.

RELATED: Man charged after police catch him in alleged ‘indecent act’ in Abbotsford park

A second incident was reported on May 3, 2023 by a woman who had seen a man masturbating on a walkway in the area of Old Yale Road and Maclure Road near the Abbotsford Judo Club.

Jansen said police arrived within two minutes and found the man – soon identified as Renning – in some nearby bushes. He failed to comply with an officer’s instructions, resulting in the officer having to draw his handgun, she said.

Other officers assisted in the takedown, and Renning was taken into custody. Three other witnesses also came forward at that time, Jansen said.

After the May 3 incident was reported in the media, another woman came forward to say that she had seen Renning fondling himself in Ellwood Park on March 22 as she was walking with her two grandchildren.

“She’d been very shaken up and shocked by the incident. She was wanting to protect her grandchildren and, when she walked by (Renning), he had continued masturbating, making no effort to stop,” Jansen said.

She said the witness was able to identify Renning “with 100 per cent certainty” in the package of photos presented to her.

Jansen said the two breach charges related to Renning missing a counselling session and not abiding by the curfew that was a condition of his bail release.

She said Renning has a “fairly significant” record that includes 49 prior convictions, including 11 breaches and 11 for performing indecent acts in other communities.

Jansen said in one police interview related to his Abbotsford offences, Renning told officers that he had relapsed into using crystal meth.

“He said that sexual sin had always been part of his life, that it had turned into indecent acts and that the drug use and an overactive libido are what caused him to act this way,” she said.

Defence lawyer Jenessa May told the court that Renning had a traumatic upbringing, and has had addiction struggles over the years.

But she said he has had periods of stability, including gainful employment and, in 2021, starting a non-profit organization in Aldergrove in which he put on a weekly dinner for marginalized people.

May said Renning has taken several college courses toward his goal of becoming a pastor and obtaining a social work degree. She said he also plans to continue attending one-on-one counselling sessions.

“He has shown that he can make positive steps in the right direction,” May said.

Judge Gregory Brown agreed to the lawyers’ joint submission of 16 months, saying it is a “significant jail sentence” in line with Renning’s crimes and past convictions.

“One of the witnesses was a person with grandchildren and that’s where the court becomes really concerned,” he said.

Brown cautioned Renning that if he ends up back in court with more offences, “the sentence will be much more severe.”

RELATED: Abbotsford man faces another charge of committing an indecent act at local park

Vikki Hopes

About the Author: Vikki Hopes

I have been a journalist for almost 40 years, and have been at the Abbotsford News since 1991.
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