It's Over: Ranzenberger case ends with sentencing of 14 to 45 years

Former Central Michigan University faculty member Mark Ranzenberger was sentenced for sexually assaulting a child.

Judge Mark Duthie ordered Ranzenberger to serve a sentence of 14 to 45 years in prison in Isabella County Trial Court Thursday. After serving 14 years, Ranzenberger will face a parole board that will decide if his sentence should be extended.

Ranzenberger's county court sentence will be served concurrently with his federal court sentence of 14 years, for possession of child pornography.

Duthie condemned the defendant for the rapes he committed. The judge said he thought Ranzenberger should spend the rest of his life in prison.

“This is one of the worst (criminal sexual conduct) cases I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” Duthie said.

As part of the plea agreement, three of the four criminal sexual conduct charges were dropped. Both the person Ranzenberger assaulted and Chief Assistant Prosecutor Robert Holmes said Ranzenberger should serve more time. However, Holmes requested Duthie issue a sentence within the guidelines set by the plea agreement.

The person appeared during the sentencing and read a statement to Ranzenberger and the court. The individual responded to Ranzenberger’s apology during the federal sentencing on Jan. 19.

“How can you forgive someone who spent seven years raping you?” the person said. “I feel sick every time I see his face on my Facebook feed.”

The person mentioned the grooming document found in Ranzenberger’s office at CMU, saying they were unsure if the document had been shared with other child molesters. The document detailed how to “groom” a child from birth to age 11 to make them more receptive to sex acts. The person also said investigators asked if Ranzenberger had a camera during the assaults. The person was again unsure and didn’t know if they were included among pictures found on confiscated storage devices.

Duthie said the grooming document was unusual, and Ranzenberger would likely become a case study in how pedophiles groom children.

“I’ve never seen grooming perpetrated in the manner it was in your case,” the judge said.

Ranzenberger also gave a statement to Duthie, saying he could never make up for his crimes.

“Just hearing the words ‘I’m sorry,’ it’s not enough,” he said. “I wish there was some way I could make this up.”

Ranzenberger was investigated by CMU police after he accidentally displayed pornographic thumbnails to a class in March. In September he admitted in a plea hearing in U.S. District Court to sexually assaulting a child several times over seven years. He was charged with sexual assault in October.

A U.S. Secret Service criminal complaint filed May 19 states Ranzenberger admitted to CMUPD Sgt. Mike Morrow that he obtained the pornographic images from a German website between 2004 and 2008. Ranzenberger said he saved multiple PowerPoint files containing pornographic images into his Dropbox cloud storage account.

The complaint said out of the 1,032 photos obtained, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children logged that 86 of the images had identifiable endangered children in them. The NCMEC had logged 502 of the photos from previous investigations.

Ranzenberger resigned from CMU and the Mount Pleasant Planning Commission in March.

A CMU alumnus, Ranzenberger taught journalism and broadcast and cinematic arts classes at CMU since 1999. He previously worked at the Midland Daily News, Huron Daily Tribune and The Morning Sun.