Local Daycare Worker and Brownsville Man Convicted of Producing Child Pornography
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The daycare worker indicted along with another man less than a month ago on production of child pornography charges have both been convicted as charged, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Christina Cortez, 38, of Corpus Christi and Matthew Harbin, 29, of Brownsville, pleaded guilty today.
The court heard that the case began after Harbin was identified as providing images to an undercover officer in England. Using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org, Harbin provided three photos of a child clothed and not sexually posed, but that appeared to be taken at a daycare facility. Harbin told the undercover officer he had more pictures, wanted to trade and asked the undercover officer if they had a daughter and how young they were “in to.” Harbin later sent five more pictures of what appears to be the same female child, but that were sexually explicit in nature. One image depicts the child laying down on a blue mat with her dress lifted and her lower body exposed. Other images depicted an adult female’s hand making contact with a child’s private area.
Further investigation revealed Harbin had previously received the images from Cortez in July 2014. In their communications, Cortez claimed to work at a daycare facility where she produced the images. Cortez admitted taking and sending the images of the same female child involved in sexually explicit conduct to Harbin. The child’s genitals appear to be the focus of all three of the aforementioned images, one of which includes the child fondling herself.
In their communications, both Harbin and Cortez indicated a desire to engage with children. During one conversation, Cortez told Harbin “I would love to watch us with her. 2 & half.”
The court also heard that Harbin is a convicted sex offender from Alabama. He was a fugitive living in Brownsville, wanted on a federal arrest warrant for child pornography from the Northern District of Alabama. Agents seized various electronic devices from Harbin on which forensic analysis revealed more than 3500 images and more than 360 videos of child pornography.
Senior U.S. District Judge Hayden Head accepted the guilty plea today and set sentencing for Dec. 9, 2015. At that time, both Cortez and Harbin face a minimum of 15 and up to 30 years in federal prison and a possible $250,00 maximum fine. Upon completion of any prison term imposed, both also face a maximum of life on supervised release during which time the court can impose a number of special conditions designed to protect children and prohibit the use of the Internet.
Both Cortez and Harbin were arrested on federal charges in August 2015 and have been in custody since that time where they will remain pending their sentencing hearing.
The charges are the result of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations and the Corpus Christi Police Department - Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
This case, prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hugo R. Martinez, was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."
Updated September 29, 2015
Project Safe Childhood