McALLEN, Texas — A federal grand jury has returned an indictment against a South Texas man and woman for production, receipt and distribution of child pornography as well as coercion and enticement of a minor, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Initially charged by criminal complaint, Reid Etheridge, 41, McAllen, and Alicia Cronkhite, 28, Edinburg, have remained in custody since a detention hearing earlier this month. They will appear for their arraignment before a U.S. magistrate judge in the near future.
According to the charges, the investigation began after authorities discovered videos and images of minor victims uploaded to an email account. Etheridge was the alleged owner of that account.
The charges allege Etheridge had filmed his sexual abuse of a minor victim and uploaded the videos to that email account.
The investigation also led to a location in Edinburg where Cronkhite resided. According to the charges, Etheridge had encouraged Cronkhite to produce child pornography of another minor victim. Cronkhite then allegedly took photographs of herself abusing a minor victim and texted the photographs to Etheridge.
If convicted, both individuals potentially face up to life in federal prison.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 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.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.