EFFINGHAM — Bond was set Friday for a Maywood man who was arrested at Teutopolis High School this week after school officials said they were alerted by students that a fellow student intended to meet him after school.
Antonio R. Ferto Castorena, 29, was arrested Wednesday at the high school. Ferto Castorena is charged with grooming, a Class 4 felony, and traveling to meet a minor, a Class 3 felony.
Judge James Eder of Friday requested probable cause to detain and to set bond. Effingham County State’s Attorney Bryan Kibler said authorities were called to the high school after a student told other students that she was going to meet a 29-year-old male after the half-day of school was over.
Kibler said police searched the parking lot of the high school based on a description of the male, later identified as Ferto Castorena, and his car and located and detained him.
Detectives interviewed the student, who told authorities that she communicated with Ferto Castorena through various social media apps, such as Kik. The student said the two had in fact made plans to meet up that day and for Ferto Castorena to pick her up from school.
Kibler said Ferto Castorena admitted to communications with the minor in an interview with Effingham County detectives. Ferto Castorena said the conversations had sexual connotations, including inappropriate pictures of himself sent to the juvenile. Authorities also found condoms and lubrication in Ferto Castorena’s vehicle.
Kibler said Ferto Castorena has no criminal history and no ties to this area. He said Ferto Castorena is is a Mexican national, not a U.S. citizen.
Kibler requested a $75,000 cash bond to protect the safety of the community and to ensure Ferto Castorena appears in court. He also asked for bond conditions of no contact with the minor involved and no contact with anyone under 18 years old without adult supervision.
Public Defender Janet Fowler was appointed for bond purposes Friday. The public defender will also represent Ferto Castorena for the remainder of the case.
Fowler said Ferto Castorena has lived in Illinois for the past four years and is employed in the state. She noted Ferto Castorena’s lack of criminal history.
Fowler requested that Ferto Castorena be released on a recognizance bond with any conditions the court would impose.
Eder found probable cause to detain in the case and set Ferto Castorena’s bond at $75,000 of which he would pay $7,500, or 10 percent, to obtain his release. Eder said bond conditions include no contact with the minor involved, no contact with anyone under 18 years old without supervision and no contact with Teutopolis High School.
Ferto Castorena told the judge he expects to be able to post bond.
A release from the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office said authorities received information of the possible encounter at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday. The information indicated that a female juvenile and an adult male were to meet at the school at 1:30 p.m. that same day.
At that time, the Sheriff’s Department deployed patrol cars and undercover units to Teutopolis High School, where deputies located Ferto Castorena. At no time did Ferto Castorena have contact with any students or staff at the high school, the release said.
The Sheriff’s Department is still investigating the technological end of the case.
Effingham County Sheriff Dave Mahon in the release praised the efforts of the sheriff’s deputies, school administration, staff and students in the matter.
“I am extremely proud of the cooperation of all those involved, from the students who reported this to the faculty at Teutopolis High School and to the quick response of the school resource officer and detective section of the Sheriff’ s Office,” Mahon said. “This situation, if left to run its course, could have ended tragically. This is a perfect example of how we all need to be mindful when interacting online.”
Mahon reminded the public that people are not always who they claim to be online and that children should never attempt to meet an online “friend” in person. Ferto Castorena appears next in court at 10 a.m. on Feb. 27.