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Press Release

Mesquite Ex-Educator Sentenced to 14 Years in Child Pornography Case

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

A Mesquite educator was sentenced today to 14 years in federal prison for child exploitation, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.

55-year-old James Earle Cude – who previously served as North Mesquite High School’s band director – pleaded guilty in August to receipt of child pornography.

In plea papers, he admitted he’d used the instant messaging app Kik to download images and videos of the sexual exploitation of minors, including a video of a young boy being raped by an adult man.  

At his sentencing hearing, agents testified that Mr. Cude had used various apps to initiate chats with dozens of underage teens, requesting lewd photos and proposing sexual meetups.

Mr. Cude was arrested in February at a coffee shop, after exchanging explicit messages with an individual he believed was a 13-year-old boy. Unbeknownst to the defendant, his messages were actually sent to an undercover agent. He later admitted he’d enticed the boy there for sexual contact.

The Collin County Sheriff’s Office, Dallas Police Department, and Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Camille Sparks prosecuted the case. U.S. District Judge Samuel A. Lindsay handed down the sentence.  

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this release contained an error regarding the defendant's tenure at North Mesquite High School:. While Mr. Cude served as a band director in North Texas for more than a decade, he served at North Mesquite High School for less than a year, from 2018 to 2019.  Reporters were promptly notified of the error. 


Erin Dooley, Public Affairs Officer

Updated September 23, 2021

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