Former Lafayette Educator Enters Guilty Plea on Child Pornography Charge
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Louisiana
LAFAYETTE, La. – United States Attorney Brandon B. Brown announced that Angel Rafael Cardona, 35, of Youngsville, Louisiana, pleaded guilty today to one count of use of a facility to cause a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity. United States District Judge David C. Joseph presided over the hearing today.
According to information presented in court, in June 2023, Cardona began communicating through Whisper, an online chat application, with a user who identified as a 13-year-old female. Unbeknownst to Cardona, the user was an undercover law enforcement agent. Cardona sent a direct message to the user inquiring about a post she had made about summer school. Two days later, Cardona asked the user if they had an account on another online chat site and the agent responded that they did have a Kik account. Cardona then contacted the undercover minor female through the Kik application. These communications between the two continued from June 8, 2023, to July 10, 2023, at which time the user told Cardona that the Kik application kept crashing and to contact her through text message and provided a phone number. These text messages continued through July 24, 2023.
From the time the conversations between the undercover agent and Cardona began, Cardona initiated conversations about sex, sexual experiences, and the undercover agent’s body. On numerous occasions, the undercover agent made reference to her age of 13. The conversations regarding her sexual inexperience increased over time becoming more graphic and detailed. Over time, Cardona began asking the undercover agent for pictures of herself and eventually, asked for images containing sexual material. On July 11 and 13, 2023, Cardona specifically and explicitly asked for the undercover agent to produce and send him child pornography. The undercover agent gave excuses of her mother’s presence in the home for not complying and Cardona instructed her to be sneaky about it in order to create the images.
Cardona brought up the idea of meeting in person on numerous occasions and eventually they agreed to meet at Veterans Park in Lafayette on July 24, 2023. The defendant agrees and admits that he intended to meet the person he believed to be a minor female for the purpose of engaging in some form of sexual activity that would be a crime under the laws of the state of Louisiana.
Cardona faces a sentence of not less than 10 years in prison and up to life in prison, up to a lifetime of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing has been set for April 25, 2024 at 10:00.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney J. Luke Walker.
This case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a U.S. Department of Justice nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood combines 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 www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
# # #
Updated January 26, 2024
Project Safe Childhood