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Bail hiked up for alleged tooth-pulling foster dad

Updated: 12/26/2013 3:35 PM
Created: 11/25/2013 11:33 PM WNYT.com
By: Dan Levy

GALLOPVILLE - A prosecutor said Monday night that 34-year old Steven Walker is probably "scared to death" about spending 25-years to life in prison and is therefore a definite flight risk.

After hearing that, the judge re-adjusted bail set by another court against the man that state troopers say used pliers to yank the teeth out of his foster daughter's mouth.

Walker didn't open his mouth, remaining silent, as he was led from the Town of Wright Court in Gallopville, wearing a bright yellow jail jumpsuit, and in shackles and chains, just a stone's throw from his home on state route 443, which neighbors describe as having no running water and no toilets.

It was in that house back in mid October when authorities say Walker took a pair of pliers and yanked out three adult teeth from his 8-year old foster daughter's mouth.

After the young girl complained about mouth pain while at school, she was subsequently examined by a dentist. It was the dentist who contacted child protective services. That led to a pair of felony assault charges and two misdemeanor child endangerment counts.

Blood relatives of the alleged victim tell News Channel 13's Dan Levy it was the wish of the child's biological mother that the child come live with the Walkers about a year and a half ago. The Walkers, those relatives say, are also related to the biological mother.

They say foster care agencies had nothing to do with the placement.

Kim Cummins, deputy chief of services for the Northeast Parent & Child Society, reiterates the overwhelming majority of families get involved with foster care out of the goodness of their heart, and incidents of abuse are very rare.

"I think it's an opportunity to raise awareness anytime things like this happen," Cummins says, "It's unfortunate when these things happen but we want to get the word out that there's an amazing amount of families out there and we always need more."

Cummins says foster parents go through thorough background checks, including both physical and emotional screening, not to mention rigorous training sessions.

"They come in and they do ten weeks of training with us and we're assessing them that entire time,"Cummins says, "We're always thinking: is this going to be a good fit?"

The little girl in the Walker case has been moved to a different -- undisclosed -- foster home.

Steven Walker remained in the Schoharie County Jail Monday night, unable to raise $15,000 bail (which the judge had raised from $10,000).

He's due back in the Town of Wright Court on December 10th, although a grad jury is likely to hear the case soon.

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