Casper Foster Dad Pleads Not Guilty To 20 Charges Of Child Sex Abuse

Steven Marler, a nationally recognized foster parent from Casper pleaded not guilty Tuesday on 20 felony charges alleging he sexually abused multiple children in his care over a period of 10 years.

Dale Killingbeck

May 22, 20245 min read

Steven Marler and courthouse 5 22 24
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

A Casper man who had been hailed by a national organization as a shining example of what a foster parent should be pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 20 felony charges claiming he sexually abused children in his care.

Steven Randall Marler, 48, appeared in Natrona County District Court before Judge Kerri M. Johnson with a beard, close-cropped brown hair and dressed in a maroon shirt and gray pants. The courtroom seats were full for the hearing.

Defense Attorney John Hummel and Marler conferred together before his arraignment began, then Johnson asked both attorneys and Marler if they agreed it was OK for her to summarize the charges against him instead of reading each one. They agreed.

The criminal warrant issued against him alleges that from Dec. 31, 2011, through Jan. 1 2021, Marler 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.

Judge Summarizes

The judge grouped the felony sexual abuse of a minor charges according to each of the four alleged victims of sexual contact by Marler, and asked Marler if he understood the charges and the penalties involved.

“Yes, your honor,” Marler replied each time.

Johnson also went through the six misdemeanor charges that involve four alleged victims and charges that include five counts of battery and one of child endangerment, and asked if he understood those charges and penalties.

“Yes, your honor,” Marler said.

At the conclusion of reading the charges, the judge asked Marler for a plea.

“I plead not guilty, your honor,” he said.

Johnson continued Marler’s $225,000 bond set in Casper Circuit Court and then segued the hearing to hear a defense motion that asked the court to compel the prosecution “make more specific the general allegations in the information to enable the defendant to prepare his defense and avoid being surprised at the trial.”

Hummel told the judge as an example that multiple charges involve allegations his client put his hands into the same victim’s shorts and had contact her private parts. Yet, he’s charged with sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree and third degree.

“I don’t know if that is two separate incidents or one incident,” he said.

He said counts six and seven, which involve a different child, allege his client put his fingers between the holes in the victim’s pants and touched her sexual organ. Count six alleges sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree, while count seven alleges sexual abuse of a minor in the third degree.

“Again, we don’t know if that is two separate acts,” the defense attorney said.

Steven Marler 5 22 24
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Alternative Charges

Natrona County Assistant Attorney Brandon Rosty told the judge the counts represent one alleged act “charged in the alternative,” which allow the jury to decide the degree of abuse. Jury instructions on that issue would be needed at the time of trial.

Johnson denied Hummel’s motion and moved on scheduling.

Rosty said the state would need at least eight days to present its case and he planned on calling the alleged minor victims to testify, as well as other minor children in the Marler household and expert witnesses. In total, the state plans to call 25 to 30 witnesses.

“Most of the fact (testimony) will come from the minor witnesses,” Rosty said.

Hummel said he would need at least seven days to present his defense, which would include expert testimony as well as testimony by Marler.

Johnson said her case schedule could not open up 15 days for a trial until next April.

Rosty said he worries about the memories of the minor witnesses, but could work with the trial date.

“The court’s schedule is the court’s schedule,” Hummel said.

April 2025 Trial Date

Johnson set the trial date for April 7, 2025, and said she would meet with the attorneys on a monthly basis starting in July as they work toward trial to accomplish any motions, witness lists and other legal matters.

The sexual abuse of a minor charges involving four victims total include two counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree stemming from alleged incidents with two victims. The charges carry a penalty of up to 50 years in prison each.

He faces seven counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree involving alleged incidents with three of the four alleged victims. Those charges each carry a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Marler also is charged with 11 counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the third degree involving alleged incidents with all four victims. Those charges carry a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.

In addition to the felony charges, Marler faces one count of child endangerment and five counts of battery that involve incidents with six alleged victims. The child endangerment charge carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine or both.

The battery charges carry a penalty of six months in jail and a fine of $750 or both.

In 2013, Marler and his wife 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.

Dale Killingbeck can be reached at

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Dale Killingbeck