South Texas pair admit to multiple counts of child exploitation
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
McALLEN, Texas - A man and woman have entered guilty pleas to production of child pornography and coercion and enticement of a minor, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Reid Etheridge, 41, McAllen, admitted he filmed himself committing the sexual abuse and assault of two minor children from on or about Jan. 1, 2020, to approximately Oct. 1, 2020. As part of her guilty plea, Alicia Cronkhite, 29, Edinburg, admitted she took photographs of one minor victim’s exposed genitals and transmitted those photographs to Etheridge at his request.
Etheridge and Cronkhite pleaded guilty to two counts and one count of production of child pornography, respectively. Etheridge also admitted to coercion and enticement of a minor, while Cronkhite entered her plea to aiding and abetting the coercion and enticement of a minor.
The investigation led authorities to an IP address in McAllen that had uploaded images and videos depicting minor children engaged in sex acts. On Oct. 2, 2020, law enforcement executed a search warrant and encountered Etheridge at the residence. He soon admitted he had filmed himself sexually assaulting one minor victim.
Further investigation revealed communication between Etheridge and Cronkhite detailing the sexual exploitation of another minor victim. Authorities searched her residence, at which time she admitted she produced multiple images of a minor victim and transmitted the images to Etheridge.
U.S. District Judge Randy Crane will impose sentencing June 15. At that time, both Etheridge and Cronkhite face a mandatory minimum of 15 years and up to life in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
They have been and will remain in custody pending that hearing.
Homeland Security Investigations - Rio Grande Valley Child Exploitation Investigations Task Force conducted the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Mitchell is prosecuting the case, which was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a nationwide initiative the Department of Justice (DOJ) launched in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section leads PSC, which marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children and identifies and rescues victims. For more information about PSC, please visit DOJ’s PSC page. For more information about internet safety education, please visit the resources tab on that page.
Updated April 1, 2021
Project Safe Childhood