The man a jury found guilty of incest in April was sentenced in Missoula District Court on Monday.
Thomas Duane Rennaker was charged with two felony counts of incest in 2003 for having sex with a female relative - one count for sexual contact that occurred before the victim turned 18, and the other for nonconsensual sex after she reached adulthood.
For each count, Rennaker received a 20-year prison sentence with 15 years suspended. The sentences will run concurrently. Rennaker also must undergo a series of rehabilitative programs, including sex offender and chemical dependency treatment.
Deputy Missoula County Attorney Kirsten LaCroix, who prosecuted the case, said the sentence was a just decree, allowing for both punishment and rehabilitation.
The sentencing lasted about 45 minutes, as defense attorney Rich Buley called on testimony from Rennaker and his former boss.
LaCroix objected to Buley's argument that Rennaker should merely be punished with rehabilitation and probation, avoiding any actual time in prison.
"I argued that just because you're amenable to treatment doesn't mean you deserve it," LaCroix said.
District Judge Ed McLean made the ruling after listening to testimony and hearing arguments from both sides.
According to court records, Rennaker's wife called police on Dec. 16, 2003, after learning of the sexual relationship.
The victim, who is now 24, told police that Rennaker had sex with her five or more times between 1998 and 2003. She said Rennaker started having sex with her when she was just 17.
Rennaker first molested her on a summer night in 1998, approaching the girl outside in the yard, where she was sleeping because of the hot weather. The next day, he gave the girl some money.
About a month later, Rennaker and the girl were home alone when the man took her clothes off and had sex with her.
After that, the victim told police, Rennaker periodically had sex with her when no one else was around. She said he never hit or threatened her, and the two of them never talked about the sex.
The victim told police the last time she was raped was in October 2003. She said she never told anyone because she feared that if she did, Rennaker would hurt her or abandon the family.
She finally told Rennaker's wife, who reported it to police immediately.
At the jury trial last April, a main point of contention was whether the sex was consensual before the girl was 18.
Since the girl was a minor when the sex first occurred, the sex acts were criminal with or without her consent.
"After she's 18, consent is a possible defense," LaCroix said. "But it wasn't in this case."
Reporter Tristan Scott can be reached at 523-5264 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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