WRIGHT, N.Y. – A 34-year-old man from Gallupville was in court Monday after being accused of forcefully removing three teeth from an 8-year-old mentally handicapped girl's mouth.
Steven Walker was charged with two felony assaults and two counts of misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child while in the Town of Wright Court on Monday.
Family and friends of both, Walker and the 8-year-old girl he's accused of pulling teeth from, say they are in shock.
Alice Knoll calls herself the victim's great aunt although she is not blood related. "Steven would never, ever hurt any child," she said.
Knoll says Walker and his wife, Jessica, and three kids live in their Gallupville home. The couple became guardians of the 8-year-old girl in June of 2012.
"It's difficult," said Knoll, "Jessica is really struggling."
Knoll says the little girl is mentally disabled and ended up in Walker's care by the wishes of her former caretaker as well as grandmother, who passed away in July if 2012.
According to Knoll, the little girl would often pull at her own teeth.
"She was pulling out her teeth sometimes, she'd make them bleed," explained Knoll.
Knoll claims that last month, on the day the 8-year-old girl was already going to get her teeth cleaned, she complained to her guardian and aunt, Jessica, of mouth pain.
The child was examined by her regular dentist who noted that three of her previously observed permanent teeth had been forcibly removed. The dentist reported the incident to Schoharie County Child Protective Services, who in turn contacted the State Police.
"The next thing that Jessica knew," continued Knoll, "Is that her husband was being accused of pulling teeth."
Walker did not respond to my questions as he left the courtroom.
Knoll explained that Walker's biological children are struggling to understand the accusations.
In court, Walker's bond was increased from $10,000 to $15,000 after the prosecution expressed concerns of Walker leaving the area. The maximum penalty for a Class B Felony Assault is 25 years in prison.
Walker's next court appearance to face his charges will be on Tuesday, December 10th.
State Police allege that the teeth were forcibly removed from the victim with a plier type implement. A forensic odontologist and oral surgeon examined the child's mouth and concluded three of the child's teeth and been forcibly removed.
Despite the initial press release by NYS Police, Walker is the legal guardian of the 8-year-old girl, he is not a foster father.
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