Orange County News
For Immediate Release Contact: Christopher Borek
September 5, 2019 845.291.3276, 845.238.4245c
District Attorney Hoovler Announces Guilty Plea
In Evidence Destruction Case
46 Year-Old Man Admits Destroying Electronic Messages Between Him and Person Posing as 15 Year-Old Girl So That They Would Not be Used in Criminal Proceedings
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Thursday, September, 2019, Jonathan D. Castell, 46, of Wallkill, pleaded guilty to Attempted Tampering with Physical Evidence, before Town of Wallkill Justice Joseph Owen, in connection with having deleted electronic communications between him and a person posing as a fifteen-year-old girl, who Castell had planned to meet in Queens on July 27, 2018.
At the time that Castell pleaded guilty, he admitted having deleted the messages so that they could not be used as evidence against him. Castell, who at the time was a teacher with the Middletown School District, had been communicating over the internet with an adult who was posing a fifteen-year-old girl. Castell admitted deleting communications he had sent to the person he thought was a fifteen year-old which stated: “So any chance I can see a pic of you in your nice comfy bed?”, and, “I do feel a little weird because of the age difference but honestly it also excites me.” Castell also admitted deleting a message from the purported fifteen-year-old asking, “This is kinda strange a strange question but if we did anything could u bring protection?” as well as Castell’s response which was, “I can”.
When Castell travelled to Queens on July 27, 2018, to meet the person who had been represented to be a fifteen year-old girl, he was confronted by an adult man, who recorded his interactions with Castell, and who told Castell that he knew why he had come to Queens, and that law enforcement authorities were being notified of Castell’s behavior and that he would be arrested. Castell admitted that when he returned to his Wallkill home he deleted his communications pertaining to meeting with the purported fifteen year-old. Castell was initially charged with Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Minor. On September 4, 2019, following an examination of Castell’s electronic devices which had been recovered during a search warrant execution, he was charged with Attempted Tampering with Physical Evidence.
Castell is scheduled to be sentenced on December 5, 2019.
District Attorney Hoovler thanked the New York State Police for their investigation of the case and the arrest of Castell.
“It is disturbing that a school teacher would engage in this type of conduct and then seek to cover it up,” said District Attorney David Hoovler. “I urge all those who have information that someone may be seeking to act in a manner which endangers children to contact law enforcement officials. Although the group which communicated with this defendant posing as a fifteen year-old girl and recorded him coming to Queens, alerted police of the defendant’s afterwards, additional evidence and investigative steps might have been possible if the police had been notified earlier.”
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Kelle Grimmer.
This criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.