A former high school teacher in the Vermillion School District has been charged with several alleged offenses involving a female teenaged student who attends classes in the district.
Following an investigation, the South Dakota Department of Criminal Investigation filed a warrant for the arrest of Jeickson Pichardo-Castillo, 23, on Aug. 19.
He made his first court appearance in the Clay County Courthouse in Vermillion on Aug. 31.
He is accused of allegedly committing the following offenses, according to an affidavit filed by a DCI agent on Aug. 18:
2. Contributing to Delinquency or Causing a Child to Become a Child in Need of ‘Supervision
3. Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor Under the Age of 18
4. Unauthorized Operation of a Motor Vehicle
5. Solicitation of a Minor
6. Sexual Exploitation of a Minor
According to a criminal complaint filed Aug. 18, Pichardo-Castillo is alleged to have:
- Solicited a minor sometime between May 1 and May 19 to engage in a prohibited sexual act, a Class 4 felony.
- Committed the public offense of sexual exploitation of a minor sometime between March 1 and May 19. It is alleged that Pichardo-Castillo caused or knowingly permitted a minor to engage in an activity or simulation of an activity that is obscene, which is a Class 6 felony.
- Stalked a person between Nov. 1, 2020 and Aug. 15, 2021 by maliciously following them, or in the alternative, stalked a person by means of any verbal, electronic, digital media, or written communication. This charge is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
- Contributed to or caused a child to become a child in need of supervision on May 7, which is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
- Furnished alcohol to a minor on May 7, which is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
- Operated a motor vehicle without the permission of its owner on May 6, a Class 1 misdemeanor.
According to the DCI affidavit, Pichardo-Castillo, who at the time was a Spanish teacher for the Vermillion School District, began electronically messaging a 15-year-old female around December 2020. The DCI investigator described him as using “grooming behavior” through these messages which continued until after the female turned 16.
According to the affidavit, the victim reported that following March 2021 and lasting until August 15, 2021, Pichardo-Castillo would harass her with malicious messages. He would yell at her, demanding to know her activities at various times and would also get details of her activities from her classmates.
The teenager reported during Facetime calls in May 2021, Pichardo-Castillo stated he wanted to perform sexual acts with her and also made other comments of a sexual nature during electronic communicatiions with the teen that month.
The affidavit also describes the teen stating that, several times last April and May, Pichardo-Castillo provided her with alcohol and vaping materials.
The affidavit states that, according to the teenager, Pichardo-Castillo gained access and unauthorized control of her car while it was parked in the Vermillion High School parking lot.
During this time, Pichardo-Castillo was employed as a teacher and the teenager was a student, the affidavit states.
The DCI agent interviewed Pichardo-Castillo on Aug. 17. According to the affidavit, he admitted to making comments that were possibly “inappropriate” to the teenager, but denied any sexual contact or sexual talk. He did state that around January or February 2021, he spoke with the teenager about prior sex.
The Vermillion School Board approved Pichardo-Castillo’s resignation at its Aug. 24 special meeting.
Pichardo-Castillo was released from jail following his Aug. 31 court appearance. His bond was set at $5,000.
The conditions of his bond include that he not leave Vermillion and not have contact with students of high school age or below.
He is expected to have another court appearance at the Clay County Courthouse later in September.