Former Bethel foster parent and daycare provider arrested on sex abuse charges

by Angela Denning-Barnes on June 25, 2013

A former foster parent and daycare provider in Bethel has been arrested for charges that he sexually abused a 4-year-old. Bethel police arrested 69-year-old Peter Tony June 13 after investigating him for six months. They say he could have many more victims going back to the 1970s.

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Tony and his late wife, Marilyn, had been foster parents in Bethel for many years but witnesses told police that allegations of abuse removed them from the program. Later, the Tony’s opened a small daycare that Marilyn ran out of their home until a few years ago when she stopped because of health issues.

The dates when the Tony’s were foster parents or when they became daycare providers are unknown. Immediate requests to the State for that information were denied.

The Office of Chidren’s Services is responsible for licensing foster homes in Alaska. Travis Erickson is the Field Administrator and says they can’t talk about specific cases.

“We have a lot of rules regarding confidentiality that we operate under,” Erickson says.

The application process to become a foster parent is quite extensive, including background checks, says Karilee Pietz with OCS foster care licensing.

“Sex offender checks, Court View, child protection checks, there’s a variety of background checks that we do before a family will be able to be licensed as a foster care facility for the State of Alaska,” Pietz says.

There are several serious reasons to have a license taken away but no one at OCS could confirm whether the Tony’s had or not. If they did, the public would not have been notified, just the foster family itself. For the kids, there’s possible follow up with child protection workers if it was a situation of neglect or abuse.

Whatever reason the Tony’s no longer did foster care, they later turned to a small in-home daycare. It’s unlikely that it was licensed as many in-home daycares in Bethel are not. It was not listed in records at the State’s Child Care Program Office, which licenses daycares.

What is known is that Tony allegedly abused a 4-year-old in Bethel for almost a year. The Bethel police department interviewed family, witnesses, and friends. Numerous potential victims have been identified both in Bethel and out of State. Police are asking anyone with information regarding the case to contact them.

Tony was indicted by a grand jury in Bethel on seven counts of sexual abuse of a minor and is being held on $100,000 bail.

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