Mom sentenced for taking Ohio teen to be friend for son
A Massachusetts CLEVELAND — mother will pay more than $11,000 in fines and serve one year on probation for picking up a 17-year-old girl in Parma and driving her back to her Salem home so her son could have a friend, prosecutors said.
Renee Hanson, 44, instructed the girl to not tell anyone and hid her inside her car when she crossed state lines while Parma police and the FBI scoured the area to try to find the girl.
Hanson — who previously pleaded guilty to interference with custody, inducing panic and obstructing justice, all fifth-degree felonies — cried Wednesday during her sentencing hearing in front Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Russo. She said she made a regrettable mistake.
“I didn’t think it through,” Hanson said. “I’m sorry for what I did. I wasn’t trying to hurt anybody. It was definitely poor judgment on my part.”
Hanson will pay $6,600 to Parma police and $4,500 to the teen’s family for the money they spent trying to find the girl, who was missing for 6 days.
Assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Jennifer Driscoll said Hanson also sent the teen a cellphone so they could communicate in secret and lied to investigators who initially asked her if she had any contact with the girl.
“I take offense to the fact that she characterized it as a mistake,” Driscoll said during the hearing. “We want to point out the egregiousness of her actions. To minimize it as an oversight is offensive.”
The teen’s parents said after the hearing that they had hoped for some jail time.
“I’m praying that she screws up on probation so she gets some time,” the girl’s father said. “She sickens me. She preyed on a vulnerable girl.”
The girl’s mother said the six-day search for her daughter was brutal on the family.
“It’s every parents biggest fear,” she said. “We’re very fortunate that Parma police found her so quickly.”
The teen and Hanson’s 19-year-old son, Michael Julien, met each other via the app Party in My Dorm, an online game in which players chose characters and interact with other players in a virtual college campus.
Both prosecutors and defense attorneys described both Julien and the teen as shy and loners. They communicated with each other online for several years, Driscoll said.
At some point, Hanson became aware that her son and the teen had been talking. In January, Hansen mailed her a cellphone so they could talk without detection by the teen’s parents.
Hansen then drove to Parma on March 4, on the teen’s birthday. Her parents said they took their daughter for a celebratory birthday breakfast.