Scottish Pedophile, Former Gay Rights Activist, Sentenced

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday November 5, 2009

A Scottish man who betrayed his friends and preyed on their children has been sentenced, as has another Scot; the two men were described as the "ringleaders" in a pedophilia ring.

But James Rennie also betrayed the GLBT community. Even as he worked at LGBT Youth Scotland, Rennie was using his work email account to access and distribute sexually explicit material involving children, reported Nov. 5 article at News.Scotsman.com.

Rennie was accused of making videos of himself molesting an infant while babysitting for the parents, who regarded him as a friend at the time. Rennie then distributed the videos. The child's father was quoted as saying of Rennie's sentence--a minimum of thirteen years, with a possibility that he might never be released--that it "keeps him in prison until my son will be a man and that's important to me."

Rennie's co-conspirator, Neil Strachan, has similarly abused the trust of the parents of at least one of his victims, a child aged one and a half years; Strachen took photos of himself assaulting the child. was sentenced to a minimum of 16 years. The HIV-positive Strachan had previously been convicted of child abuse and had served three years, but was able to conceal his history and perpetrate further crimes.

The judge in the case, Lord Bannatyne, said of the photo showing Strachan's assault against the child, "What is shown in that photograph is utterly appalling and would shock to the core any right-minded person who has had to see it. This can be properly described as a wholly dreadful crime."

Lord Bannatyne also told Strachen that he posed "an ongoing and persistent risk of future sexual violence," the article said.

Lord Bannatyne also had harsh words for Rennie, telling him, "You were, in my judgment, like a spider at the centre of this conspiracy, weaving an electronic web bringing to fruition this appalling crime."

Rennie, who says that he was abused sexually as a child, offered his apologies to the parents of the infant he had molested, but the apology as rebuffed.

The case involved eight Scottish men, including a church elder; however, the investigation extended well beyond the eight Scottish men snared in a sting operation that began when a computer technician found a cache of photos on Strachan's computer. An international ring including over 300 individuals in America, Germany, Australia, Poland, and The Netherlands was exposed. The case was so shocking that Scottish authorities have launched a new initiative to monitor and track pedophiles online.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.