UNIVERSITY PARK — Tucked in the middle of one of the wealthiest areas in Texas, agents say a wealthy socialite had developed a secret habit: Swapping and collecting child pornography.
Erika Perdue, 41, of University Park, faces several child pornography charges after agents raided her $1.4 million mansion in April and found a cache of graphic videos and photos on her computer.
Agents say the images were extremely graphic and showed children — some of them toddlers — having intercourse with adults.
She “collected so much child pornography,” court documents allege, she had trouble keeping track of it.
In early January, undercover agents accessed her computer files through file-sharing programs and downloaded multiple graphic videos and photos.
Using the username, “Classyb****,” Perdue unknowingly shared the images with agents who later tracked down her computer.
According to court documents, Perdue later admitted to the FBI she had been distributing child porn since 1999.
While her husband was at work as a successful attorney, Perdue told investigators she was on the computer swapping and collecting child porn.
“She also confessed that she used file-sharing child pornography every day,” agents wrote in court documents.
Her Facebook page depicts a sultry housewife who liked to pose provocatively for pictures. In the couple’s driveway sits a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro with vanity license plates "MY SYN."
Perdue’s mansion is across the street from a children’s playground, yet agents don’t believe any of the victims are local. The photos appear to have been collected from all over the country.
The case surprised child advocates, who say it’s very rare for women to be arrested for child porn.
“It’s not as common,” said Catherine Smit-Torrez, who spent two decades in law enforcement investigating child abuse cases.
She’s now a child advocate and has written a book about her own abuse as a girl.
“Women don’t have as much interest in child pornography,” she said. “Generally, we don’t see a lot of that.”
Yet, with estimates showing the child porn industry generates $50 billion a year, Smit-Torrez says the money is a powerful draw to women.
“It’s very tempting,” she said. “There are a lot of sales to be made out there.”
She says individual images can fetch $25 each online, and that monthly subscriptions to child porn websites can charge up to $100 a month.
It is unclear if Perdue was selling porn, and Smit-Torrez adds that some women — just like some men — are sexually drawn to children.
“There are some women who have fascination with different sexes and different age groups,” she explained. “A woman is supposed to be considered a mother who’s nurturing… not someone who is selling images that can literally destroy a child’s life.”