Middletown teacher charged with trying to meet underage girl

Posted: Updated:
MIDDLETOWN -

Police have arrested a Middletown High School mathematics teacher who they say drove to Brooklyn in an attempt to meet an underage girl from an online chat room.

But there was no girl — he'd been communicating with a decoy from an activist group that targets would-be child sex predators.

State police say Jonathan Castell, 44, thought he was arranging to meet with a 15-year-old.

But it was really an activist named Tony Blas, who runs the Facebook group Team Loyalty Makes You Family.

Blas posted video of the encounter on Facebook Live.

In the video, he confronts a man whom he does not identify by name. But he does say he is a 44-year-old from Middletown who intended to meet an underage girl.

"I just wanted to meet her," the man says in the video. "I just wanted to see if she's for real."

With a Brooklyn accent and confrontational tone, Blas snaps back.

"You came all the way from Middletown to meet a 15-year-old girl?" he says. "You think that's right?"

State police don't. Castell faces charges of attempted endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor. He is due back in court Aug. 2.

In an interview via video chat, the activist told News 12 that news of Castell's arrest was "like a dream come true" and that he would continue to conduct similar stings.

News 12 asked the Middletown School District if Castell still worked there, but a spokesperson declined to comment.

No one answered the door at Castell's Middletown home. Neighbors say they haven't seen him since Saturday. The arrest happened Tuesday.

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