CARMEL, Ind.– The state adjutant for Indiana’s Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is facing federal charges.
Authorities say Steven McDanield, 55, secretly recorded a minor in the bathroom of his Carmel home. He’s facing seven counts of sexual exploitation of a child and one count of possession of child pornography.
In addition to his job as state adjutant, McDanield also serves as director of operations for the VFW state headquarters. He previously served as the commander for VFW Post 10003 in Carmel and is currently listed as a Trustee on the Post’s website.
In December of 2019, someone spotted a camera in his bathroom and alerted Carmel police. That bathroom was primarily used by a minor. It was suspected that McDanield was able to use his phone to access the camera, because it was observed that he would use his phone when someone was in that bathroom.
According to a federal complaint, when McDanield was confronted about the device, he claimed it was a WiFi network extender. Shortly after the confrontation, “McDanield locked himself in the bathroom for approximately one hour. After exiting the bathroom, the device was no longer there,” according to court documents.
Police interviewed McDanield on Jan. 13. He allegedly admitted to having captured photos of the minor using the hidden camera. Federal officials say he also admitted to being sexually attracted to teenagers, as well as seeking and possessing child abuse material from online sources including darknet sites.
McDanield admitted to taking photos while having sexual contact with the minor, according to court documents.
While executing a search warrant, authorities found a hard drive with abuse images of the victim. Some of the pictures were taken while the victim “appears to be unconscious,” according to court documents. The hard drive was locked with the password, “8675309.”
David Capshaw, Interim State Commander for VFW of Indiana, issued this statement:
“We were shocked and frankly disgusted to hear of the cause for the investigation of one of our state level leaders. While this remains a fluid situation, this individual ha been prohibited from participating in all VFW activity. We will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities during their investigation.”