A Wyoming man is facing a litany of charges related to alleged child sex abuse and physically assaulting minors. The man had previously been recognized for being a model foster parent, and had been given a national award for his care of children.
Steven Randall Marler, 48, was arrested last week and has been charged with 20 counts related to sexual abuse of four children, five counts of battery against four minors, and one count of child endangerment. The alleged child sex abuse allegedly occurred between 2011 and 2021.
“The sexual abuse claims include groping, sexual intrusion, and committing sexual acts against one child inside a treehouse,” according to the Daily Mail.
Marler and his wife Kristen have been fostering children since 2008. They have adopted six children, plus hosted dozens of children at their home in Casper, Wyoming.
In 2013, Steven and Kristen Marler were recognized by the federal Administration for Children and Families as one of the top three families in the country and given an Adoption Excellence Award. The couple were invited to the White House for their foster care.
The Administration for Children and Families said the couple possessed key traits of “honesty, integrity, and compassion.”
The federal organization noted that the pair “have an exceptional ability and willingness to respect the children’s relationship with their parents.”
The award listing said, “In addition to creating permanency for children, they also provide support and resources and mentor other foster parents.”
However, Kristen Marler pleaded no contest to misdemeanor child endangering in 2022 after initially being charged with child abuse, according to court documents.
Investigators reportedly noticed that one of the children under the care of the Marler couple had feet that resembled “small cantaloupes.”
The affidavit said the young girl had swollen feet, dry, sloughing nail beds, and “excruciating pain in her feet.”
The girl allegedly told investigators that she was forced to stand from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. at home or run in place as punishment.
The Cowboy State Daily reported, “The children only got to drink during brief visits to the bathroom sink faucet, allegedly. The girl received half a potato for breakfast if she completed her ‘disciplines,’ and a potato with some meat for lunch, says the document.”
“After she told her parents she no longer wanted to live with them, she no longer received fruit, vegetables or dairy products, and she was not allowed to eat the meal that was prepared for the rest of the family,” the affidavit reads.
The girl said that there were locks on the pantry and the refrigerator to keep out the children.
Kambria Marler, a former foster child at the home, says her time there was a “house of horrors.”
Kambria allegedly escaped the home at the age of 17, and said Marler physically abused the children for the slightest of infractions.
“I’m pretty sure all of us have had concussions,” the 20-year-old Kambria told K2 Radio.
Kambria said that the adult pair would withhold food from the children as a form of punishment, she would get so hungry that she would eat dog food.
Kambria said she was sent to the Wyoming Cowboy Challenge Academy when she was 17. At the time, Kambria weighed just 69 pounds from malnourishment.
K2 Radio reported, “Out of spite one day, Kambria etched an ‘X’ onto the dusty glass of a family portrait over Kristen’s face. Her foster mother became enraged and began to beat her. Then, allegedly, she had the other foster children take sharpies and cross out Kambria’s face in all their family photos.”
Charging documents claim Steven Marler punched a child in the nose so hard that the kid drew blood.
Marler is accused of endangering a child by kicking “the victim off the roof and did not get (the child) medical attention.”
Marler reportedly faces up to life in prison for the first-degree sexual abuse charges, 20 years for the second-degree charges, and up to 15 years for the third-degree charges.
Court records show Marler was released on $225,000 bond.
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