The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

December 17, 2013

Former middle school teacher agrees to plea deal in child exploitation case

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A former South Middle School science teacher will spend 28 years in federal prison after pleading guilty Friday to a charge of sexuallly exploiting a child victim to make pornography.

Charles Dominic Gastel, 40, 624 N. Kentucky St. in Carterville, also will spend the rest of his life under supervised release. The plea agreement was reached Friday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

As part of the agreement, Gastel admitted that he sexually assaulted the victim, now 19, over a period of approximately nine years and that he video-recorded some of the sexual assaults.

In an affidavit filed with the charge in July, a detective with the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department said police in Carterville were contacted by the Barton County Sheriff’s Department on July 15 about a sexual assault that occurred on June 28 at a residence in Carterville.

The girl, in a written statement, said Gastel engaged her in sexual intercourse despite her protests.

Authorities then interviewed Gastel’s son, who said he saw a video on Gastel’s laptop computer that depicted Gastel and the victim engaging in intercourse, according to the affidavit.

On July 17, a deputy with the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department and child-welfare authorities contacted Gastel at his home for an on-site inspection. After the inspection, Gastel agreed to an interview at the Joplin Police Department.

Gastel denied that there were videos on his laptop in the interview.

When told it would be searched by forensic technicians, he said he wanted to talk to a lawyer because there were things on his computer that would end his teaching career.

At that time, Gastel was arrested and transported to the Jasper County Jail.

According to the affidavit, images depicting Gastel and the girl were found on optical media discs collected during a search of Gastel’s residence.

Investigators also seized several computers, a video camera and other items.

In a subsequent interview with the victim, authorities learned that two or three videos were created when the victim was 16, but that she and Gastel began engaging in sexual acts when she was 10, according to the affidavit.

Joplin School Superintendent C.J. Huff said when the charges were filed in July that Gastel had resigned his teaching post at the end of the 2012-2013 school year to seek employment elsewhere.

Gastel has been held in federal custody since his arrest.

 

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