Crime

Accused Sex Offender Back Behind Bars After Bond Revoked

Larry Dee Penner allegedly abused girl beginning when she was 7 years old, then contacted victim’s mother hundreds of times while free on bond

By Andy Viano
Flathead County Justice Center. Beacon File Photo

A Bigfork man accused of sexually assaulting a young girl on multiple occasions over a three-year period is back behind bars after repeatedly contacting the mother of his alleged victim while out on bond.

Larry Dee Penner, 58, appeared in front of Judge Robert Allison in Flathead County District Court on Monday. He stands accused of sexual assault and attempted sexual intercourse without consent stemming from what prosecutors say was a years long history of abuse.

Penner was initially charged in November but posted $100,000 bail one month later with certain conditions attached, including provisions that he was to keep the court informed of his residence and not to contact any witnesses involved in the case. Prosecutors allege that Penner violated each of those conditions, including by exchanging 1,876 text messages and 134 photos with the victim’s mother between Dec. 26 and Feb. 18. Deputy Flathead County Attorney Alison Howard submitted the content of 287 of those text messages with the court last month, at which time Penner’s bond was revoked.

According to charging documents, a 10-year-old girl approached a school official in 2019 to tell them about Penner’s conduct. The girl said Penner first abused her when she was 7, that the abuse continued for years, and that it “would happen frequently.”

Law enforcement also contacted another alleged victim who was now an adult. That victim claimed she was molested by Penner “for (her) entire childhood” and the she was “not surprised at all” to learn Penner had continued that behavior.

Penner is scheduled to go to trial this fall. He has pleaded not guilty to both counts.

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