HARPERSFIELD TWP., Ohio -- A registered sex offender from Indiana is behind bars in Northeast Ohio, accused of photographing young boys at a local swim meet. Records show the man has a history of sex crimes against boys, dating back more than twenty years.
James Renick, 69, is being held in the Ashtabula County jail on $25,000 bond. The former television news reporter is charged with obstructing official business and accused of lying about his identity when confronted by an Ashtabula County Sheriff’s deputy.
Renick was a veteran news reporter at WNEP-TV in Scranton, Pennsylvania when he was arrested in 1995 and later convicted of sex crimes involving young boys.
According to a police report, Renick was "known to visit swimming pools and take pictures of young boys wearing swimsuits" and "had over 500 pictures at his residence along with used boys swimming trunks and sex toys."
On Sunday, August 5, concerned parents called sheriff's deputies to a youth swimming meet for kids 14 and under at the Spire Institute, a sports complex in Ashtabula County. They were concerned about a man taking pictures of young swimmers in a restricted area.
The report states that when a deputy approached the man, later identified as Renick, he appeared very nervous, his hands began to shake, and he fumbled while removing SD cards from his camera.
The deputy says Renick gave him a fake name and birth date, and constantly changed his story.
First he said he was there to "photograph a friend's child," then said he was a "freelance photographer." He also said "he was an "amateur photographer" there to take pictures to send to a friend.
The deputy didn't buy his story and discovered the man was James Renick from the Indianapolis area, a registered sex offender for life.
The report says Renick then admitted "that he served six years in prison for molesting two boys under the age of ten.”
Investigators say Renick has also been seen at swim meets at Cleveland State, Indiana Purdue University and events in Columbus and Canton.
The Ashtabula deputy stated when he looked at the images from Renick's camera on Sunday, he had pictures of boys in the diving section of the pool, images of young boys on a basketball court and the image of a shirtless young boy wearing shorts, but no nude or sex-related photos.
Renick’s next court appearance is scheduled for next Wednesday, August 15, to determine whether he is eligible for a public defender. If he does make bond, he cannot have any contact with children and cannot possess any photography equipment.