Chester County judge arrested for sexual exploration against minors, according to SLED

A Chester County judge is accused of sexual related crimes against minors.
Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 7:33 PM EST
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LANCASTER, S.C. (WBTV) - A Chester County judge is accused of sexual related crimes against minors.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division or SLED arrested Judge Johnny Ray Steele. He has a deep tenure as a public figure in both Lancaster and Chester Counties.

WBTV knocked on what we think is Johnny Ray Steele’s door to talk about the charges SLED just arrested him for. Steele was a municipal judge in Fort Lawn, Chester County and according to Solicitor Randy Newman a judge for the newly created Veteran’s Court in Lancaster County. Doug Barfield at the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office says Steele also worked there about 20 years ago.

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Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office initially took this report but asked SLED to investigate back in April of this year. Steele is accused of having sexually explicit pictures of minors on his phone. SLED says Steele texted a sexually explicit photo of a victim to his own phone. He is suspected of having 15 photos of undressed or naked minors on his phone. Another woman by the name of Dena Orrell has also been arrested alongside Steele, but right now it is not clear what the relationship might be between the two.

WBTV’s South Carolina reporter Morgan Newell received a statement from the town of Fort Lawn’s attorney. That statement says Steele resigned the day he got arrested and the town is moving forward with filling the vacant position. The town hopes to fill it by December.

SLED charged Steele with one count of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor Second Degree and two counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor Third Degree. In a statement -- the agency says “Every investigation is unique. This case is part of a multi-subject investigation involving multiple juveniles. These investigations are ongoing even though initial charges have been made.