Deputies approve 'no confidence' vote against Cedar County county attorney
Cedar County Sheriff's Deputies took the rare step of accusing their County Attorney, Jeffrey Renander, of being too soft on sex crimes.
Deputies sent the I9 investigative team a copy of their no-confidence vote against Renander and are calling on him to resign. Every deputy, 13 in all, signed the letter. Renander's handling of a recent sexual abuse case triggered the move.
Renander agreed to a plea deal for a sexual assault case involving Nicholas Becker. Becker was charged with felony third-degree sexual abuse and faced up to 10 years in jail but Renander let him take a plea deal to a serious misdemeanor. Last week, a judge sentenced Becker to 90-days in jail and he will not have to register as a sex offender.
In that plea deal, Becker admitted performing sex acts on a woman without her permission. Besides what deputies view as a light sentence, what angers them is what they call a pattern of Renander victim shaming. The shaming includes reports he told Becker's victim: "at least you weren't awake for it", blamed her for being drunk and told her she should learn from it.
Deputies called Renander's alleged comments "egregiously inappropriate" and just one example of victim shaming or minimizing the trauma of sexual abuse victims, including children. Deputies worry that Renander's alleged actions could re-victimize abuse victims or scare others from coming forward. Area sexual assault advocates also say the allegations are troubling.
"Absolutely it will prevent survivors from coming forward," said Riverview Center sexual assault advocate, Mandy Blattner. "People are not going to want to come forward if they know that there is even a possibility that they won't be believed or that somebody will try to turn it around and say that it was their fault."
Cedar County Sheriff Warren Wethington was not among those who signed the letter but tells I9 he is "proud" of his deputies and that he supports what they did.
Court records show Becker's victim said the plea agreement was "acceptable" but objected to allowing him work release. Judge Tamra Roberts also expressed concerns with the leniency but said she ultimately signed off on it so as not to undermine prosecutors abilities to make plea agreements.
I9 reached out to Renander for his side of this story but have not heard back.