TAMPA — A 64-year-old Wesley Chapel man was convicted this week on federal charges that he used his computer and cell phone to try to arrange a sexual encounter with a 13-year-old girl.
John Joseph Steele thought he was arranging for the meeting through the child's guardian, but in fact, he was dealing with an undercover officer engaged in an operation to identify and apprehend child sexual predators, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Robert E. O'Neill. After a brief conversation, Steele drove from Wesley Chapel to a location about 80 miles away to meet and have sex with the girl and was arrested.
A federal jury convicted Steele on Wednesday of using a facility of interstate commerce to persuade, induce, entice and coerce a child to engage in sexual activity. He faces at least 10 years in prison, and up to life, when he is sentenced May 4.