A Hudson Valley teacher confessed he deleted sexual messages he sent to someone he thought was 15.

On Thursday in Orange County Court, 46-year-old Jonathan D. Castell of Wallkill pleaded guilty to attempted tampering with physical evidence. Castell, a former Middletown High School teacher, confessed he deleted electronic communications between him and a person posing as a 15-year-old girl he planned to meet in Queens on July 27, 2018.

At the time that Castell pleaded guilty, he admitted to deleting the messages so that they could not be used as evidence against him. At the time, he was employed as a Math teacher with the Middletown School District.

Castell confessed to sending these texts to a person he thought was as a 15-year-old girl:

“So any chance I can see a pic of you in your nice comfy bed?”

“I do feel a little weird because of the age difference but honestly it also excites me.”

Castell also admitted to deleting a message from the alleged 15-year-old asking, “This is kinda strange a strange question but if we did anything could u bring protection?” And deleting his response, “I can.”

When Castell traveled to Queens on July 27, 2018, to meet the person who was acting as a teen he learned the person was really part of a network of adult citizens who target child predators.

When he arrived in Queens, Castell 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 15-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.

“It is disturbing that a school teacher would engage in this type of conduct and then seek to cover it up,” Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said. “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.”

Castell is scheduled to be sentenced on December 5.

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