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Sex-offender couple, married in Grand Forks, a rare occurrence

James Thorpe1 / 2
Renae Thorpe2 / 2

Fargo police issued a public notification a week ago concerning two registered sex offenders who recently moved in the city.

It is standard procedure. Police always notify the public when moderate- or high-risk offenders move, but this particular situation is far from the norm.

The pair of sex offenders - James Francis Thorpe and Renae Michelle Thorpe - are married, which authorities say is uncommon.

"I would say it's an extreme rarity," said Barb Breiland, the Fargo-based program manager of the state's sex offender unit for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Parole and Probation.

Of the roughly 150 registered sex offenders in Fargo, the pair appears to be the only married couple, said Lt. Pat Claus. He figures it's rare, though he said it's not something he tracks.

"I've never paid much attention," he said.

Breiland said she's never heard of offenders marrying after being convicted, in part because there are so few female sex offenders.

"When we look at the reality of it, the pool is very small," she said.

In treatment programs, sex offenders are urged to have a positive social network, and it often includes family, Breiland said.

"They need that support just as much as you and I do," she said.

Sgt. Joe Anderson said it's his understanding the Thorpes met while they were in prison, but it's not clear where. Men and women do not serve in the same populations in jails or prisons, and their convictions are from different states.

James Thorpe committed his crime in Illinois and hasn't served any time in the North Dakota prison system or the county jail in Grand Forks, both places where his wife's done time.

Neither of the Thorpes could be reached for comment. James Thorpe has no listed phone number, and repeated attempts to reach him in person at his home were unsuccessful. Renae Thorpe is in a Centre Inc. halfway house, where the phone number provided for contacting residents does not accept messages.

According to records in Grand Forks County, the Thorpes were issued

a marriage license there on June 29, 2009, and were married in Grand Forks.

Two days later, Renae Hofstad, her maiden name, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of failing to register as a sex offender and was in the Grand Forks County jail from July 1 to July 23. She then served a year at the women's prison in New England, N.D., from July 23, 2009, until July 22, 2010.

Renae Thorpe, 38, now lives at 123 15th St. N., while James Thorpe, 42, lives at 11 12th St. N. Both are classified as Level II sex offenders, assessed as a moderate risk to reoffend.

He was convicted in 2003 in Cook County in Illinois of aggravated sexual assault. His victim was a 15-year-old female ac­quain­tance. He has to register as an offender until 2028.

She was convicted in 2008 in Grand Forks County of corruption of a minor. Her victim was a 14-year-old male.