Conn takes over in Steele sex abuse case

KINGMAN ­ A case involving alleged sexual conduct with a minor, stemming from incidents with two different alleged victims as long as 20 years ago, falls now into the lap of Mohave Superior Court Judge Steven F. Conn.

Judge Robert R. Moon recused himself earlier from the case, saying he is acquainted with the defendant, John Henry Steele, 39, of Kingman, and would not hear the case to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

Conn went on the record saying he played softball with the defendant some 20 years ago and that he has "casual contact" with some of Steele's relatives. But, his relationship with the defendant isn't close enough to cause him to remove himself from the case, he said.

Conn set Steele's omnibus hearing for 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 17. Steele's private defense attorney is Eric Engan of Kingman.

Kingman Police officers arrested Steele on May 25 on charges of felony sexual conduct with a minor and felony sexual abuse.

The first alleged victim, now 26, alleged Steele, her uncle, sexually abused her numerous times from 1985-1989, at several locations in the Kingman area.

A second alleged victim, now 18, alleged Steele, her stepfather, sexually abused her once in February 2000.

Steele met with KPD officers at department headquarters on East Andy Devine Avenue, where officers took him into custody and booked him into the Mohave County Jail on one felony count of sexual conduct with a minor and three felony counts of sexual abuse.

Steele pleaded not guilty to all charges at his arraignment on June 27.

If Steele is found guilty, he faces a mandatory sentence of 10-24 years in the Department of Corrections on the most serious of the charges, and that he could have to serve consecutive sentences if he is found guilty on more than one charge.