Veteran accused of improper contact with girl, 14, seeks admission to treatment court

Montgomery County Courthouse

An Upper Providence man accused of having inappropriate communications with a 14-year-old New Hanover girl hopes to address the charges in a Montgomery County treatment court for veterans.

During a pretrial hearing on Tuesday, May 13, Dustin Andrew Renninger, through his lawyer Evan T. Hughes, requested that action on his case be postponed so that he can apply for admission to the countys special treatment court for veterans. Judge Garrett D. Page granted the postponement request so Renninger can explore admission to the treatment court program.

Hughes did not disclose the branch of service with which Renninger served, only that Renninger, 35, of the 700 block of Meadowview Lane, will apply for the program.

Renninger remains free on bail pending court action on charges of corruption of a minor and harassment in connection with alleged incidents that occurred between 2012 and 2013.

With the charges, New Hanover police alleged Renninger had inappropriate communications with the teenage girl through text messages, Facebook messages and in person. Renninger discussed things of a sexual nature with the girl and asked her about her love interests and tries to entice her to sneak out of the house and hang out with him without her mothers knowledge, New Hanover Police Officer Dekkar Dyas, referring to Facebook messages, alleged in the criminal complaint.

Renninger, who knew the girls family, also asked the girl, while she was in his company on one occasion, if she wanted to do stuff on the down low, according to the arrest affidavit. The victim refused.

The victim also told police that Renninger has attempted to put his arm around her and asked her if she wanted to make out, according to the arrest affidavit.

In addition, Renninger has asked her several times if she wanted alcohol or cigarettes. She refused each time, Dyas wrote in the criminal complaint.

When confronted about the alleged incidents by the victims mother, Renninger apologized and stated in a message that he was out of control when I did that, according to the arrest affidavit.

If hes convicted of the charges at trial, Renninger faces a possible maximum sentence of 2 to five years in prison. However, charges could be handled differently if Renninger is accepted into the veterans treatment court program, which is presided over by President Judge William J. Furber Jr.

The specialty court has the goals of enhancing public safety and reducing recidivism rates among veterans who are charged with crimes. Under the program, veterans are connected with community treatment services through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs while receiving appropriate dispositions to their criminal charges, including the potential to have charges dismissed.

The program represents a collaboration of officials from the courts, the county jail, the district attorneys office, the public defenders office, community-based treatment providers and Veterans Affairs.

To be eligible, a veteran must suffer from traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma or psychological or substance abuse problems that require treatment and which contributed to their crimes.

Eligible offenders must agree to follow a court approved treatment plan and routinely meet with probation officials and the judge. When offenders are released from the court or prison system, Veterans Affairs officials are available to assist them.

Information from The Mercury.