cude

MESQUITE, Texas — A former North Mesquite High School band director has been sentenced to 14 years in federal prison following his arrest last year on child pornography charges.

Yesterday, the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of Texas announced the 14 year sentence for 55-year-old James Earle Cude. The former band director and educator had previously pled guilty to receipt of child pornography in August 2019.

"Mr. Cude was arrested in February at a coffee shop, after exchanging explicit messages with an individual he believed was a 13-year-old boy," read a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office. "Unbeknownst to the defendant, his messages were actually sent to an undercover agent. He later admitted he’d enticed the boy there for sexual contact."

Cude, in his plea papers, admitted to using instant messaging app Kik to download images and videos of sexual exploitation of minors, including a video of a young boy being raped by an adult man, stated federal prosecutors.

During his sentencing hearing, federal agents testified Cude had used various apps to initiate chats with dozens of underage teens — proposing lewd photos and proposing sexual meetups.

At the time of his arrest, the Mesquite Independent School District stated they were unaware of any inappropriate behavior involving Mesquite ISD students.

Cude had recently been employed with the district at the time of his arrest but had spent approximately 32 years in public education — with previous positions at Texas school districts including Roscoe, Hamlin, Breckenridge, and Whitesboro.