Longtime Casper Foster Dad Charged With Sexually Abusing Children

Steven Marler, a Casper man who has been nationally recognized for being a foster father, now faces 26 criminal charges that include alleged sexual abuse of some of those children.

DK
CM
Dale Killingbeck & Clair McFarland

January 04, 20246 min read

Kristin and Steven Marler
Kristin and Steven Marler (Via Facebook)

A Casper man who’s been nationally recognized for being a model foster parent now faces 26 criminal charges that include alleged sexual abuse of some of those foster children.

Steven Randall Marler’s charges in Natrona County Circuit Court include 20 counts related to sexual abuse of minors involving four children, five counts of battery against four minors, and one count of child endangerment against a fifth, according to court documents provided to Cowboy State Daily.

A criminal warrant issued against him alleges that from Dec. 31, 2011, through Jan. 1 2021, he engaged in acts that included putting his hand inside victims’ clothing to touch private parts, groping, rubbing against victims, sexual intrusion using a finger and sexual contact involving his own private parts.

A preliminary hearing on the charges in Natrona County Circuit Court is set for Jan. 19.

Marler, born in 1975, and his wife Kristen have been profiled as foster parents by various news outlets in recent years.

Four Alleged Victims

The charging document alleges that with one victim, Steven Marler committed two counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree and three counts in the second degree against a minor from Dec. 31, 2017, through Jan. 31, 2021.

The document also alleges he committed five counts of sexual abuse of another child from May 31, 2013, to April 17, 2014. Those charges include one count of first-degree sexual abuse using a finger, two counts of second-degree sexual abuse, and two counts of third-degree sexual abuse.

He’s also charged with nine counts of sexual abuse of a third child that stretched from a period from Dec. 31, 2011, to Jan. 1, 2020, that included alleged sexual acts with the victim in a treehouse. Marler faces one charge of sexual abuse with a minor in the first-degree, three counts of sexual abuse in the second degree, and five counts of sexual abuse in the third degree involving that victim.

Marler also has one charge of sexual abuse with a minor in the third degree from an incident involving a fourth victim between May 31, 2013, through April 2014, in the victim’s bedroom, according to the charging document.

Battery Charges

The battery counts against Marler, which involve using physical force to “unlawfully, unknowingly or recklessly cause bodily injury to another” stem from an incident in which he allegedly punched a victim in the nose so that it bled, according to the charging document.

The document alleges Marler endangered a child by kicking “the victim off the roof and did not get (the child) medical attention.”

The sexual abuse of a minor in the first-degree charges carry a penalty of up to life in prison, the second-degree charges of up to 20 years in prison, and the third-degree charges of up to 15 years in prison.

The battery and child endangerment charges are misdemeanors. The battery charges carry penalties of up to six months in jail and a fine of $750. The child endangerment charge carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Court records show Marler was released on $225,000 cash or surety bond. His bond terms require him not to leave Natrona County or have contact with victims or with minors without supervision.

Mom Charged Over Child’s ‘Cantaloupe’ Feet

Kristen Marler, Steven’s wife, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor child endangering in 2022, court documents say. She’d originally been charged with child abuse.

A circuit court judge gave her a deferral, agreeing that the case could be dismissed altogether if she successfully completed two years of unsupervised probation from May 3, 2022 to May 3 of this year.

The affidavit in that case filed March 15, 2022, says investigators opened a case against Kristen Marler after discovering a child with swollen feet, dry, sloughing nail beds and “excruciating pain in her feet.”

There were swollen, hardened and painful spots in the arches of the girl’s feet, where she felt her bones were broken, the affidavit says.

Investigators asked what had happened to the girl. She said she was made to stand all day at home, or to stand or run in place as punishment. Her feet resembled “small cantaloupes” after this treatment, but her parents did not seek medical help, the affidavit alleges.

The girl said she told her parents in October 2020 that she no longer wanted to live with them. In response, they isolated her and made her stand in the hallway with her right hip and shoulder touching the wall from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., the affidavit claims.

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.

The affidavit relates: “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.”

A later medical examination did not show stress fractures in the girl’s feet, but did reveal a tissue infection, decreased range of motion, plantar fascia and discoloration, reportedly.

The girl was adopted at age 7. She told investigators she would be held responsible if one of her younger siblings stole food or did something wrong.

If she was caught in a position other than perpendicular to the wall when she was supposed to be standing against the wall, the girl said, her siblings would sometimes “tattle on her.”

She said her parents kept locks on the pantry and refrigerator, and neither she nor her siblings had the codes to open those. 

Presidentially Acclaimed

In 2013, Steven and Kristen Marler were recognized by the federal Administration for Children and Families with an Adoption Excellence Award, one of only three families across the nation to get the award that year.

The federal group cast the Marlers' home as a haven.

“The Marlers' motivation for becoming foster parents was to support biological parents who are unable to care for their children,” according to an announcement of the award at the time on the agency’s website. “They accomplish this by encouraging and working directly with biological and extended families to help them toward reunification. They have an exceptional ability and willingness to respect the children’s relationship with their parents.”

Dale Killingbeck can be reached at dale@cowboystatedaily.com and Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.

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Dale Killingbeck

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CM

Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter