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Bethel man admits to long history of child sex abuse, police say

Eli Martin

The 69-year-old Bethel resident charged with sexually abusing a 4-year-old girl admitted to repeatedly abusing her and other minors placed in his care over the course of many years, according to an investigating officer's affidavit. The investigation is ongoing as Bethel police continue to look into allegations of child abuse dating back to the 1970s.

Peter Tony allegedly abused the girl over an 11-month period before the victim’s family reported him to police in January 2013. He was arrested on June 13, as reported yesterday.

Charging documents prepared for the Superior Court of Alaska in Bethel show that Tony was indicted by a Bethel Grand Jury on three charges of sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree and four charges of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree. All relate to the 4-year-old victim.

According to the investigating Bethel Police Officer Amy Davis’ report in support of the charges against Tony, the abuse took place in Tony’s house, where, together with his late wife, he operated an in-home daycare. The Tonys' daycare was not listed in Alaska’s Child Care Program Office, which licenses Alaska daycares, Bethel radio station KYUK reported Tuesday. Marilyn Tony died on June 2, 2013.

The girl told police that the assaults took place every day she visited Tony’s home, and when his wife would go into the kitchen to make lunch. There is no suggestion that Mrs. Tony was aware that any abuse took place.

Tony was arraigned in Bethel Court Tuesday morning, and does not yet have a lawyer. A representation hearing has been set for Thursday morning. Tony’s bail is currently set at $100,000 for release into the care of a third-party custodian.

The girl’s father, speaking by phone on Tuesday from Bethel, said that his number-one concern was that Tony not get out of jail on bail while awaiting trial.

We would not like him to get out of jail, since he has admitted to the crime and admitted that he can’t help himself,” the father said. “Even with a third-party bail, this is putting the general public in danger, not to mention the harm it would do to my daughter if she sees him in the grocery store or somewhere.”

According to police, the girl’s abuse first came to light when she asked her maternal grandmother why Tony, whom kids at the daycare center referred to as “Baha,” touched her genital areas.

After the girl’s family notified police in January 2013 about what their daughter had told them, a subsequent investigation uncovered reports of abuse stretching at least as far back to Tony’s time as a foster parent between 1984 and 1998.

One victim who was sent to live in Tony’s house as part of this program in 1997 accused him of sexually assaulting her the following year. Those accusations of sexual abuse as a licensed provider were, in the words of the investigator, “substantiated,” and Tony was removed from the program. However, he was never charged with a crime.

The 4-year-old girl’s father said by phone that he and his wife had “of course” checked into the Tonys before entrusting them with their daughter and had found nothing to suggest he might be a threat to children. He was incredulous that no public information was available about the complaints against Mr. Tony as a former foster parent.

When confronted with the recent allegations that have led to his arrest and indictment, Tony reportedly confessed to assaulting the girl -- though not to the same degree as alleged by the girl.

According to Davis's report, the girl's mother said that when she confronted him on June 4, Tony admitted to the abuse and apologized, saying that he has an addiction. In a later interview with Davis, on June 7, 2013, Tony admitted not only to sexually assaulting the 4-year-old girl but also a number of foster children for whom he provided care. Davis says he claimed not to remember the exact number or any of their names.

Asked whether they planned to stay in Bethel, the girl’s father suggested that he and his wife had not totally made up their minds, but, “Right now we’re planning on staying.” He said they were well-established in Bethel and thought of it as home.

Contact Eli Martin at eli@alaskadispatch.com