Denison Youth Pastor Convicted of Child Exploitation Violations

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

SHERMAN, Texas – An Anna, Texas man has been convicted for child pornography violations in the Eastern District of Texas announced U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston today. 

Chad Michael Rider, 48, was found guilty of three counts of the sexual exploitation of children, also referred to as the production of child pornography.  The jury returned the verdict late today following a five-day trial before U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant.

According to the court documents and testimony at trial, in August 2022, Homeland Security Investigations agents were investigating David Pettigrew, of Denison, for child pornography offenses.  Agents seized a computer hard drive from Pettigrew’s office at the Denison Church of the Nazarene.  Forensic review of the device revealed videos of Pettigrew and Rider setting up to film children while bathing at the church.  Additional videos were located in which Rider filmed two other children in residential settings.

“One of the sacred safe havens for children is the church and all it stands for.   Yet Rider and his conspirators purposefully used it as a lure to bring children in and then, despicably, exploited those children for their own perverted gratification,” said U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston.  “The jury heard all of the evidence and rendered its judgement and the law of the Eastern District of Texas federal court will render its punishment soon, at least as such punishment that may rendered on earth.”

Under federal statutes, Rider faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years and up to 30 years in federal prison on each count. The maximum statutory sentence prescribed by Congress is provided here for information purposes, as the sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations with assistance from Anna Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marisa J. Miller and Jay Combs.

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