On Friday, May 13, 2022, Judge Phil Grant of the 9th District Court in Montgomery County, Texas, sentenced Defendant Matthew Rice to 40 years in prison. Rice pleaded guilty to four counts of Possession of Child Pornography earlier this year.
On May 14, 2020, law enforcement officers with the Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce executed a search warrant at Rice’s home in Spring, Texas, after receiving a tip about Rice uploading child sexual abuse images on a popular social media site. Detective Sam Morris of the Conroe Police Department was the lead detective, and Investigator Jeffery Chappell of the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, formerly assigned to Homeland Security Investigations, conducted a forensic analysis of Rice’s devices.
During the sentencing hearing held on May 13, 2022, the court heard evidence that Rice was implicated in another cyber tip about possession of child sexual abuse material in November of 2019. Additionally, prosecutors presented evidence that a search warrant was executed at Rice’s residence approximately 15 years prior, looking for the same type of material.
In this case, prosecutors presented evidence showing Rice possessed at least 30 images of very young children being sexually abused. In addition, Rice’s reflection was captured on the screen of his laptop when he was viewing a sexually explicit video of a child and recording that video on his phone. The ICAC Taskforce identified the child in the video and confirmed that the child was under 12.
This investigation was a multi-agency effort. The Conroe Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, Montgomery County Pct. 2 Constables Office, Montgomery County Pct. 4 Constables Office, Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, and other members of the Houston-Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force assisted in investigating this case and apprehending the offender. Special Victims Division Chief Shanna Redwine prosecuted the case.
ADA Shanna Redwine: “We are grateful for this sentence because it means there is one less person trading images of suffering children. We are also indebted to the detectives who have to review this horrific material, something they do voluntarily day in and day out to protect our children.”
District Attorney Brett Ligon: “Child pornography is not a victimless crime. At a minimum, those who view these images create and sustain a market of horrific abuse, and others go on to abuse children directly. We have formidable tools to pursue prison in these cases, and we intend to make full use of those tools to protect our kids.”