David Curtiss "Steve" Stephenson (August 21, 1891 – June 28, 1966) was a convicted murderer and rapist, who in 1923 was appointed Grand Dragon of the branch of the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana and head of Klan recruiting for seven other states.
Later that year, he led those groups to independence from the national KKK organization.
Amassing wealth and political power in Indiana politics, he was one of the most prominent national Klan leaders.
"He was viewed as responsible for reviving the Klan and widening its base, and considered the most powerful man in Indiana".
He had close relationships with numerous Indiana politicians, especially Governor Edward L.
In Stephenson v.
State (1925) Stephenson was tried for and convicted of the abduction, rape, and murder of a young white woman, Madge Oberholtzer, a state education official.
His trial, conviction and imprisonment ended the portrayal of Klan leaders as law abiding.
The case destroyed the Klan as a political force in Indiana, and significantly damaged its standing nationally.
Denied a pardon by Governor Jackson, in 1927 he started talking with reporters for the Indianapolis Times and released a list of elected and other officials who had been in the pay of the Klan.
This led to a wave of indictments in Indiana, more national scandals, the rapid loss of tens of thousands of members, and the end of the second wave of Klan activity in the late 1920s.