Convicted rapist labeled as ‘predator’

WARREN — A man who served 25 years in prison for a 1993 rape conviction has been classified as a sexual predator.

James C. Rensel, 60, of Bradford, Pa., was labeled a sexual predator for life — the worst classification for sex offenders — by Trumbull County Common Pleas Court Judge W. Wyatt McKay.

Rensel moved to Pennsylvania after he was convicted in 1981 in California at age 23 for for assault with a deadly weapon and indecent exposure. He was placed on 36 months probation and moved to McKean County in northwest Pennsylvania. There, Rensel was convicted of indecent assault and corruption of a minor on a 5-year-old victim and sentenced to 11-to-23 months in prison and another five years probation with orders to seek a psychological evaluation and treatment, according to documents Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins submitted at Rensel’s parole hearing last year.

In 1993, while he was living in Warren, Rensel was indicted on four counts of rape and two counts of gross sexual imposition for an assault on a then 9-year-old girl. He was released from prison in September after serving his full seven-to-25-year sentence.

Rensel, who still lives in McKean County, Pa., will have to register his address every three months with the county sheriff’s office for the rest of his life, said attorney Diane L. Barber with the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office.

Barber said the classification of sexual predator is the worst available under the set of laws Rensel was originally tried under in 1993. She said she went for the classification because Rensel had sex offense convictions that preceded the 1993 case, in addition to other criminal convictions.

Rensel underwent a psychological evaluation as part of the sexual predator hearing, Barber said. According to court documents, Rensel’s evaluation showed significant tendencies towards anti-social behavior.

The report also put Rensel in “a moderate to low risk category for re-offending” but dynamic risk factors, including Rensel’s long history of sexual self-regulation issues and a history of substance abuse, led the court to designate him a predator, the document reads.