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Two Arraigned On Federal Child Exploitation Charges

The Eastern District of Texas announced that U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Cox charged two North Texas men with child exploitation crimes.

A grand jury indicted David Pettigrew, 48, of Denison, and Chad Michael Rider, 46, of Anna, with conspiring to sexually exploit children (also referred to as the production of child pornography). They also charged Pettigrew with transporting child pornography. Both men have entered “not guilty” pleas to the charges.

Pettigrew came to law enforcement officials’ attention 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 home on August 21, 2020. Until recently, Pettigrew had served as pastor of the Denison Church of the Nazarene. Mr. Rider is a resident of Anna.

If convicted, Pettigrew and Rider face 15 to 30 years in federal prison. The investigation has revealed that several children were surreptitiously photographed in private locations or outside of their parents’ presence. Any public members with information about this case or possible victims should contact Homeland Security Investigations at HSIDallasVictimInfo@ice.dhs.gov. Members of the community should 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 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 lead the case. It helps to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet and identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

Homeland Security Investigations and the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office investigated, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marisa J. Miller and Jay Combs prosecuted this case.

It is important to note that an indictment or arrest should not be considered evidence of guilt. All persons charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.