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UPDATED: Powell pleads not guilty in court appearance today

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on Sep. 23, 2011 at 6:25 am |
September 23, 2011 2:05 pm
Steven Powell escorted to jail Thursday night/Courtesy of the Pierce County Sheriff's Department

UPDATED as of 1:55 p.m.

Steven C. Powell, the father-in-law of a missing Utah mother, has pleaded not guilty to charges of voyeurism and possession of inappropriate pictures of minors.

A judge set his bail at $200,000 during an afternoon court appearance. He’s been ordered to have no contact with children.

Prosecutors have charged Powell, 61, with 14 counts of voyeurism and one count of possession of depictions of minors engaged in sexually-explicit conduct. If convicted as charged, he faces up to five years in prison.

The charges against Powell came after detectives reviewed more than 2,000 images of girls and adults on videotapes and CDs seized from Powell’s South Hill home last month as part of the investigation into his daughter-in-law’s disappearance.

Many of the pictures were taken in public, while others appeared to have been shot through windows using telephoto lenses. The pictures focused on the intimate female parts. Investigators believe they were taken without the females’ permission.

During the court hearing today, deputy prosecutor Grant Blinn said investigators believe the activity had been going on for at least 10 years.

Susan Cox Powell, a Puyallup native, was last seen in December 2009 at her home in West Valley City, Utah. Her husband and sons have since returned to Puyallup area and have been living with Steven Powell.

Denise Cox, Susan Cox Powell’s sister, addressed the media after Steve Powell’s arraignment.

“I thought I’d seen it all from that family but I haven’t,” she said.

She said she thinks Steve Powell is involved in her sister’s disappearance – if not directly, at least indirectly.

“I hope it’s a wake-up call that he’s not invincible to the law,” Cox said. “I just want this all to come to a close whether she’s alive or dead. Just let us know.”

After Powell’s arrest Thursday night, Pierce County sheriff’s detectives took Susan and Josh Powell’s two sons into protective custody. They were removed from the home, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.

“We always err on the side of caution when it comes to kids,” Troyer said.

Susan Powell’s parents filed for custody of the two boys, who are 4 and 6,  this morning. In their request, they ask that Josh Powell have no visitation unless it is strictly supervised.

“Father is not a suitable custodian for the children,” court documents state.

In the petition, Charles and Judy Cox write they believe Josh Powell’s arrest is imminent.

“We have prepared this custody petition in anticipation of Josh being arrested for the disappearance, kidnapping/murder of our daughter,” the petition states. “Obviously, we are hoping against hope and sending out many prayers that our daughter is somehow, some way, alive.”

West Valley City investigators issued a statement Thursday night saying Steven Powell’s arrest was not related to the disappearance of Susan Cox Powell.

 

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