Behind the walls of a 4,000-square-foot, $1.4 million mansion in the upscale Dallas neighborhood of University Park, a wealthy socialite and wife of a well-heeled attorney led a secret life -- as a connoisseur of graphic child pornography.
Erika Susan Perdue, 42, admitted in court this week that behind the online alias “Classybitch,” she downloaded and traded so many images of children in sexual situations over a 12-year period that she could no longer keep track of them. Police nabbed her last year when she unwittingly shared explicit images of children with undercover agents through file sharing software.
She told investigators that due to the vast amount of child porn she viewed, she could not recall the specific files she shared with the undercover officers.
Perdue (pictured) told investigators she indulged her obsession with kiddie porn while her husband, Mark Perdue, was at the office. Mark Perdue is not named in the criminal complaint against his wife, who drove a 2010 Camaro with vanity license plates reading, “MY SYN.”
Depicting herself on Facebook as a coquettish housewife given to seductive, come-hither poses, Perdue admitted to police that she took up her online child porn hobby in 1999 and spent time downloading files every day. Investigators found a cache of disturbing images on Perdue’s computer, including photographs of very young children being raped by fully grown adults of both genders.
She is not charged with actually creating child porn. Court documents never make clear whether she sold any of the images, or simply collected and traded them with other kiddie porn enthusiasts. Experts estimate that the sale of sexually graphic images of children brings in $50 billion per year worldwide.
Perdue attempted suicide after being released from custody to attend a treatment program, but after the attempt she was sent back to jail.
Child advocates say that it is rare for women to develop a taste for child pornography and even more unusual for a woman of Perdue’s social and economic status. But, they say, it happens.
“There are some women who have fascination with different sexes and different age groups,” former child abuse investigator Catherine Smit-Torrez told a local TV news station. “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.”
Under a plea agreement, still to be ratified by a judge, Perdue agreed to plead guilty and take a 14-year federal prison term. She may also face a $250,000 fine and probation for life. She also agreed to pay $5,000 to a victim identified from a photo on her computer.
SOURCES: WFAA Channel 8, Dallas Observer, Dallas News, Huffington Post