Local Daycare Worker Arrested for Allegedly Producing Child Pornography
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A 38-year-old woman from Corpus Christi has been taken into custody upon the filing of a criminal complaint alleging she produced and distributed child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. The complaint alleges Christina Cortez produced the graphic images while working at a daycare facility in Corpus Christi and further distributed them to Matthew Harbin, 29, of Brownsville. Harbin is also charged in the complaint.
Cortez is expected to make her initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jason Libby in Corpus Christi at 2:00 p.m. today.
Harbin is currently in state custody on related charges and is expected to be transferred to federal custody and make his initial appearance in the near future.
According to the criminal complaint, 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 allegedly first provided three photos of a child clothed and not sexually posed, but that appeared to be taken at a daycare facility. The complaint alleges that he stated he had more pictures, wanted to trade and asked the person if they had a daughter and how young they were “in to.” Harbin later allegedly 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, according to the charges. Other images allegedly depict 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, according to the complaint. In their communications, Cortez claimed to work at a daycare facility where she allegedly obtained the images. Cortez allegedly sent images of the same female child involved in sexually explicit conduct. The child’s genitals appear to be the focus of all three of the aforementioned images, according to the complaint, one of which includes the child fondling herself.
In their communications, both Harbin and Cortez allegedly indicate a desire to engage with children. During one conversation, the complaint alleges Cortez told Harbin “I would love to watch us with her. 2 & half.”
If convicted of the production charges, both face a minimum of 15 and up to 30 years in federal prison, while the distribution of child pornography carries a minimum of five and up to 20 years of imprisonment.
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."
A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.