Former CMU prof, Clare resident pleads to pornography charge

Mark Ranzenberger

Mark Ranzenberger

In a plea agreement, former CMU Professor Mark Thomas Ranzenberger, 61, of Clare, has pled guilty to one count of possession of child pornography in connection with an investigation that began at Central Michigan University last spring.

In March, CMU Personnel Services alerted law enforcement of their administrative investigation which began after a student reported seeing “thumbnails” that looked like pornography while in his class.

In the court documents of the plea agreement under U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia T. Morris in Bay City, Ranzenberger admitted to downloading sexual images of children under 12 “for his own gratification.”

CMU and home computer equipment and disks seized by investigators revealed over 1,000 instances of child pornography including prepubescent girls engaged in sexual acts, and sexual acts involving infants, the court documents said.

Investigators also found a “grooming document” developed by Ranzenberger outlining how to groom a child from birth to 11 years old to participate in sexual acts and a power point presentation he said was for his own sexual gratification.

They also found pictures of fully clothed children, apparently taken by Ranzenberger in Mt. Pleasant.
In the court documents Ranzenberger also admitted to sexually abusing a minor under 12 years old up to three times weekly for seven years from 1995 to 2002. If the federal court agrees to the plea agreement he will not face charges for that offense.

Sentencing guidelines for the charge he has pled to range from 11 to 14 years with a possible fine of up to $250,000, fees and possible restitution to victims. The penalty could have been up to 20 years, but because he admitted to the offences and cooperated with the investigation. The sentence was lessened. The penalty includes a supervised release from five years to life and registration as a sex offender.

State Police said in a release this week that they have been “assisting the United States Secret Service with an additional investigation” involving Ranzenberger, have completed that investigation with a victim’s assistance and have turned over their findings to the U.S. Secret Service.

The release said the Secret Service had notified them that they located a possible victim during their investigation of Ranzenberger on a separate incident.
Ranzenberger remains lodged at the Clare County Jail pending his sentencing date, which has not been set.

He was a teacher at CMU until last spring when he resigned from that position and from the Mt. Pleasant Planning Commission. He was also a writer and on-line editor and the Morning Sun until 2013.

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