U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of Texas
(713) 567-9000
November 18, 2014

Estranged Couple Gets Massive Sentences for Sexual Exploitation of a Child

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX—Charles Travis Cloud, of Corpus Christi, and Vanessa Lisla Cloud, of Zapata, have been ordered to prison for the sexual exploitation of a child, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Charles Cloud, 30, and Vanessa Cloud, 28, of Zapata, both pleaded guilty in June 2014.

Today, Senior U.S. District Judge Hayden Head sentenced Charles Cloud to 324 months in federal prison, while Vanessa Cloud was ordered to serve a 240–month-term. Both were further ordered to serve 20 years of supervised release following completion of their prison term and must pay $150,000 in restitution. They will also be ordered to register as sex offenders.

On Aug. 25, 2013, Vanessa Cloud contacted the Zapata County Sheriff’s Office for help regarding a property dispute with her estranged husband Charles Cloud. Charles, who had been residing and working in Corpus Christi, returned to Zapata to retrieve his belongings after his wife’s indication that she planned to divorce him.

After law enforcement informed Mrs. Cloud that they could not intervene in such a dispute without a court order, Charles Cloud returned to Corpus Christi with the couple’s children.

The next day, Vanessa Cloud informed authorities that while they lived in Zapata, she had sexual intercourse with a young male relative while her husband videotaped it on a cellular telephone. The victim was identified and confirmed the abuse.

Authorities conducted a search warrant and seized several electronic media storage devices from both Mr. Cloud’s Corpus residence and the Zapata home. A forensic examination of the items led to the discovery of seven videos of children involved in sexual explicit conduct.

Both have remained in custody since their arrest and will remain there pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future. The charges against the Clouds were the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI, Corpus Christi Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Zapata County Sherriff’s Office and Child Protective Services.

This case, prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hugo R. Martinez and Lance Duke, was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”

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