A judge sentenced a former Texas youth pastor to 60 years in prison Feb. 21 after finding him guilty of sexual exploitation of children in July 2022, according to a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office in Eastern District of Texas.
Chad Michael Rider, a 49-year-old former youth pastor in Texas, was found guilty of three counts of sexual exploitation of children and sentenced to 720 months (60 years) in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant, according to the press release.
Chad Michael Rider, 49, of Anna, Texas, was found guilty of child pornography, including his role in taking videos of children bathing at church.https://t.co/YPgOlx2ddi
— News 4 San Antonio (@News4SA) February 22, 2023
Authorities were first led to Rider while investigating his fellow pastor David Pettigrew, the press release continued. Pettigrew was referred as a possible suspect by two electronic service providers and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who alerted authorities to a series of digital files they suspected contained child pornography, according to an August 2021 press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
After seizing a hard drive from Pettigrew’s office at the Denison Church of the Nazarene, investigators found videos of Pettigrew and Rider setting up hidden cameras to film children bathing at the church, according to Tuesday’s press release. Authorities also reportedly found videos in which Rider filmed two other children in home settings. (RELATED: REPORT: Anti-Alcohol Pastor Arrested On Child Pornography Charges)
Pettigrew pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of children as well as conspiracy and attempt in April 2021, according to the earlier press release. Judge Mazzant sentenced him to 360 months in federal prison in August 2021.
“[Rider] used his trusted roles as a church leader, care giver to at-risk teens, and as a trusted member of his community to plant secret recording devices in bathrooms and other places where children would be disrobed. This shocking breach of trust was committed by an individual who had falsely sewn a firm belief of good character of himself in so many parents in his community. This case stands as a stark reminder of our common duty as citizens to watch out for the most vulnerable among us. I appreciate the members of law enforcement, community members, and especially the victims who had the courage to stand up and stop Rider before he could victimize others,” U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston said in the press release.
“Unfortunately, no amount of prison time can restore their innocence but rest assured, this community is safer with this sexual deviant behind bars,” Lester R. Hayes Jr., Special Agent in Charge with Dallas Homeland Security Investigations, said in a statement.