SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a former Joplin, Mo., middle school teacher has pleaded guilty in federal court to sexually exploiting a child victim to produce child pornography.
Charles D. Gastel, 40, of Carterville, Mo., pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. Gastel was formerly a science teacher at South Middle School in Joplin.
By pleading guilty today, Gastel admitted that he sexually assaulted a teenage victim, identified in court documents as Jane Doe, over a period of approximately nine years. Gastel also admitted that he video-recorded some of the sexual assaults.
Under the terms of his plea agreement, Gastel will be sentenced to 28 years in federal prison without parole. Following his prison term, Gastel must spend the rest of his life under supervised release. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
On July 13, 2013, a Carterville, Mo., police officer interviewed the 19-year-old victim at her home in Lamar, Mo. She reported that she had been sexually victimized by Gastel repeatedly, beginning when she was 10 years old. Jane Doe reported that during some of the assaults, Gastel used a digital video recorder to record them engaging in sexual acts.
On July 17, 2013, Gastel was interviewed at his residence by the investigators. He initially told the investigators that he did not have videos on his computer. When asked for consent to search his computer, Gastel replied that he wanted to talk to a lawyer because he had files on his computer that would end his teaching career. Gastel was then placed under arrest and officers obtained a search warrant for his residence. A forensic preview of the digital media seized by officers yielded the discovery of several video files that depicted Gaston sexually assaulting Jane Doe when she was 16 years old.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Kelleher. It was investigated by the Carterville, Mo., Police Department, the Southwest Missouri Cybercrime Task Force and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Project Safe ChildhoodThis case 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."