PLANO, Texas – Two North Texas men have been charged with child exploitation crimes in the Eastern District of Texas announced U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Cox today.
David Pettigrew, 48, of Denison, Texas, and Chad Michael Rider, 46, of Anna, Texas have been charged in an indictment returned by a grand jury with conspiring to sexually exploit children (also referred to as production of child pornography). Pettigrew was additionally charged with transporting child pornography. Both men have entered “not guilty” pleas to the charges.
Pettigrew came to the attention of law enforcement officials through referrals sent by two electronic surveillance providers and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Those referrals identified a computer user who uploaded suspected child pornography onto their online platforms. On August 6, 2020, Homeland Security Investigations agents executed federal search warrants at Pettigrew’s residence and the Denison Church of the Nazarene, after which, agents arrested Pettigrew. Agents executed a search warrant at Rider’s residence on August 21, 2020. Until recently, Pettigrew had served as pastor of the Denison Church of the Nazarene. Rider is a resident of Anna, Texas.
If convicted, Pettigrew and Rider face a minimum of 15 years and up to 30 years in federal prison.
The investigation has revealed that a number of children were surreptitiously photographed in private locations or outside of the presence of their parents. Any members of the public with information about this case or possible victims are urged to contact Homeland Security Investigations at HSIDallasVictimInfo@ice.dhs.gov. Members of the community are urged to send a detailed message (including contact information) with information about any possible private interactions with Pettigrew or Rider to the email above.
This case is being 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 is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marisa J. Miller and Jay Combs.
It is important to note that an indictment or arrest should not be considered as evidence of guilt and that all persons charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.