INDIANAPOLIS – Steven Danford, 51, of Fishers, Indiana, was sentenced late yesterday to 35 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and attempted sexual exploitation of a minor.
According to court documents, on June 16, 2020, the Fishers Police Department responded to a report of child molestation. The report indicated that Minor Victim 1, age 5, was playing with a friend at Danford’s home when the child was molested by Danford. Minor Victim 1 was forensically interviewed by investigators and the child disclosed being sexually abused by Danford on multiple occasions.
On September 14, 2020, police were contacted and advised that Danford had moved out of his residence. After Danford moved out, the landlord was cleaning the property and found cable equipment and a 16GB Gorilla flash drive. Police took custody of the flash drive, and it was examined. The flash drive contained three video and audio files of Danford sexually abusing Minor Victim 1. The files also corroborated the statements Minor Victim 1 made during the forensic interview.
In June 2022, two additional files were identified on the flash drive. Those files depicted Danford sexually abusing Minor Victim 2 when she was between the ages of 9 and 11. After Minor Victim 2 was identified by the child’s mother, Minor Victim 2 was forensically interviewed. Minor Victim 2 disclosed being sexually abused by Danford on multiple occasions. Minor Victim 2 explained that Danford told the child not to tell anyone and the child didn’t for fear of being yelled at.
Danford was previously convicted of a misdemeanor third-degree assault of a child.
Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, and R. Sean Fitzgerald, acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations’ Chicago Field Office, made the announcement.
Homeland Security Investigations investigated the case. The Fishers Police Department provided valuable assistance. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Judge James R. Sweeney II. As part of the sentence, Judge Sweeney ordered that Danford be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for 25 years following his release from federal prison. Danford must also register as sex offender wherever he lives, works, or goes to school, as required by law.
U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn E. Olivier who prosecuted this case.
This investigation was conducted by the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, a partnership of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies led by the Indiana State Police. The Task Force is dedicated to investigating and prosecuting crimes involving the technology-facilitated sexual exploitation of children and the trafficking of child sexual abuse material. Each year, Indiana ICAC investigators evaluate thousands of tips, investigate hundreds of cases, and rescue dozens of children from ongoing sexual abuse. In fiscal year 2019, the most recent year for which data is available, the Southern District of Indiana was second out of the 94 federal districts in the country for the number of child sexual exploitation cases prosecuted.