The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

July 27, 2013

Former Joplin teacher charged with sexual exploitation of children

JOPLIN, Mo. — A former science teacher at South Middle School in Joplin was charged Friday with the sexual exploitation of children in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

Charles Dominic Gastel, 39, of 624 N. Kentucky St. in Carterville, is charged with the production of child pornography involving a teenage girl from Lamar.

In an affidavit filed with the charge, 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 seized several computers, a video camera and other items in the search.

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.

The most recent incidents allegedly occurred between Jan. 1, 2009, and Jan. 1, 2011.

Joplin School Superintendent C.J. Huff, in a telephone interview Friday night, said Gastel is no longer employed by the school district.

He said the district learned of the charge in federal court late Friday and that it was his understanding that Gastel had resigned his teaching post at the end of the school year to seek employment elsewhere.

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