Legislators Urge Action on WV DNR Director Accused of Domestic Violence

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – Following news reports last week that the Director of the Division of Natural Resources, Stephen McDaniel, was arrested on misdemeanor battery charges against his ex-wife, several freshmen members of the House of Delegates have requested his resignation.

“His behavior is unacceptable, as is the refusal to take action by the Governor’s Office because they believe that he is doing a good job,” Delegate Cindy Lavender-Bowe stated. Delegate Lavender-Bowe is a freshman legislator from Greenbrier County and serves as chair of the House Democratic Women’s Caucus.

“Director McDaniel should resign from his position immediately,” Delegate Lavender-Bowe urged. “Should he refuse to resign, the Governor should terminate his employment because no matter how good of a job they believe that he is doing- it does not excuse domestic violence.”

“This man is a government official who publicly represents the State of West Virginia,” Delegate Amanda Estep-Burton (D-Kanawha) added. “It was reported that Director McDaniel reached a deferred prosecution agreement with the State of Florida for these domestic violence charges,” she stated. “We cannot let domestic violence be the face of our state.”

“Several members have signed onto a letter to the Governor requesting him to take action to terminate Director McDaniel’s employment,” Delegate Cody Thompson (D-Randolph) stated. “We stand behind this request and urge the Governor to stand up against domestic violence.”

Additional members of the House of Delegates joined this call for action, including Delegate Michael Angelucci (D-Marion), Delegate Sammi Brown (D-Jefferson), Delegate Evan Hansen (D-Monongalia), Delegate Danielle Walker (D-Monongalia) and Delegate Lisa Zukoff (D-Marshall).

The original story can be found below:

(WOAY) – The West Virginia DNR Director was arrested in Flordia after allegedly striking a woman.

According to court documents, on April 6, 2019, the victim stated she was at her residence when the defendant, Stephen Scott McDaniel, 53, came over after drinking at the bars in downtown St. Augustine, Fl. The victim stated the defendant was angry because she would not pick him up from one of the bars. A verbal argument escalated when McDaniel became physical with her.

McDaniel allegedly held the victim on the bed, was on top of her with his knee pressing down on her left forearm. The victim stated her hair was in her face when the defendant placed one hand on her mouth and nose causing her to have trouble breathing. The victim said the defendant had his hand on the left side of her face holding her down.

As the altercation escalated, McDaniel picked up a lamp and was standing next to the bed, and was shaking the lamp. The victim told police she believed he was going to kill her.

Police observed a bruise on the victims left eye, along with a laceration under her upper lip. Red marks were also observed on the victim’s neck.

When police interviewed McDaniel, he told them that he did get into an altercation with the victim but denied any physical contact. A small cut was observed on the top of the defendant’s left hand.

McDaniel was charged with domestic battery, a misdemeanor.

McDaniel entered a deferred prosecution agreement, which means he didn’t plead guilty or say he was innocent. The agreement which states that he is not able to contact the victim, he is not able to possess firearms as a condition of his employment within the state of West Virginia or Florida, he cannot enter any bars, liquor stores, or establishments that primarily sell alcohol, he cannot consume alcoholic beverages, and has to complete an approved batterer’s intervention program successfully.

If McDaniel doesn’t violate the agreement within 12 months, then all charges will be dismissed.

Brian Abraham, General Counsel to Governor Jim Justice, tells WOAY that based on McDaniels great job performance, facts, and circumstances, the Governor has asked McDaniel to keep on doing his job, and not resign.

McDaniel offered to resign. He met with the Governor after returning to West Virginia and they discussed the situation with lawyers.

The victim did not want to receive medical attention when asked and the victim also did not want to complete an audio statement of the incident.

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