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Press Release

Denison Youth Pastor Sentenced for Child Exploitation Violations

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Texas

SHERMAN, Texas – A former youth pastor has been sentenced to federal prison for child pornography violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston today.        

Chad Michael Rider, 49, of Anna, Texas, was found guilty by a jury on July 22, 2022, of three counts of sexual exploitation of children, also referred to as the production of child pornography.  Today, Rider was sentenced to a total combined sentence of 720 months in federal prison by 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.

“Justice has been served on Chad Michael Rider for his role in the production of child pornography,” said U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston.  “He 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.”

“This defendant and his cohort routinely preyed on the innocence of several children that looked to him for guidance as members of his church. He had no concern for the life-altering harm his devious actions would cause those he victimized,” said Lester R. Hayes Jr., Special Agent in Charge HSI Dallas. “Unfortunately, no amount of prison time can restore their innocence but rest assured, this community is safer with this sexual deviant behind bars.”    

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

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.


Updated February 21, 2023

Project Safe Childhood