According to the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Derrick O'Meara, who is the Director of the Oneida County Child Advocacy Center, a Town of New Hartford man has been arrested for having sexual contact with an underage female child.

The investigation began on May 12, 2023, when the Child Advocacy Center was notified that an adult male had subjected a 16-year-old female child to sexual contact. The case was assigned to Sheriff’s Investigator Tyler R. Barnes.

Investigator Barnes’ investigation revealed that 49 year-old Joseph R. Steele had subjected the child to sexual contact earlier in the week.

Investigator Barnes, along with Sheriff’s Investigator Mark R. Chrysler, located Steele at his residence and arrested him on one count of Rape in the 3rd Degree, a Class E Felony.

After the arrest, Steele was transported to the Sheriff’s Office where he was processed. After processing, Steele was taken to the Sheriff’s Correctional Facility where he was arraigned at CAP Court and held on $15,000 cash bail or $30,000 bond.

Services have been offered to the victim and an order of protection was issued on behalf of the child.