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Psychologist’s report on Josh Powell released

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on Feb. 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
February 17, 2012 3:48 pm

A psychologist who evaluated Josh Powell as part of the custody case involving his two sons found the father had a good relationship with the boys and competent parenting skills.

But, the psychologist also noted that Powell had a high degree of stress in his life and had trouble containing his negative talk about his in-laws and the Mormon Church in front of his sons, 7-year-old Charlie and 5-year-old Braden.

Dr. James Manley raised further concerns about Powell after viewing some of the 400 images of sexual and incestuous images found on Powell’s computer after it was seized in 2009 in connection with his wife’s disappearance. Powell had been the only person of interest named in  Susan Powell’s disappearance.

Among the cartoon images were sexual themes involving well-known cartoon characters including Spongebob Squarepants, the Simpsons and Superman. There also were drawings depicting incest, group sex and bondage. A serious of computer-generated images included scenes of family members having sex with each other, including parents with children, according to Manley’s report.

Manley suggested in a Jan. 31 report that Powell undergo a psychosexual evaluation to “clarify his sexuality, parenting history and attitudes.”

The evaluation was ordered the next day. Four days later, Powell ignited a devastating fire inside his Graham-area rental home, killing himself and his two sons.

Manley’s two reports were included with nearly 1,000 pages of documents and reports released today by the state Department of Social and Health Services. The documents are the first of two installments to be released by the state agency after requests from the media.

The documents cover the agency’s involvement with Powell and his sons.

The boys were taken into state protective custody in September after Powell’s father, Steven Powell, was arrested and charged with several counts of voyeurism and possession of child pornography. Josh Powell and his sons were living with Steven Powell at the time.

After a brief stay in foster case, the boys were sent to live with their maternal grandparents, Charles and Judy Cox. Josh Powell had supervised visits.

He agreed to undergo a psychological evaluation in an effort to get his sons back.

Manley met with Powell on Oct. 27 and filed his report Dec. 9. Manley noted that Powell defensive and evasive at times.

“Across his supervised visits, Mr. Powell has demonstrated a strong foundation of parenting skills and an unwavering desire to parent his sons,” Manley wrote in the report. “His demonstrated inability to curb his inappropriate commentary about ‘Mormon police’ and the Cox family during a recent family therapy session is concerning.”

Manley suggested that counseling would help Powell come to terms with this wife’s disappearance.

“It is important Mr. Powell become more aware of his intensity and his overbearing manner toward his sons,” Manley wrote.

Manley noted that Powell’s stability is “not secure.”

“Once these matters have been resolved; when he is no longer a subject of investigation, when he can amend his communication style and address the other identified parenting concerns, father’s reunification with his sons may be warranted,” Manley wrote.

He recommended ongoing, regular, supervised visits.

“In sum, while Mr. Powell has not demonstrated significant parenting deficits, his emotional and residential stability is concerning,” Manley wrote. “He does not appear to need typical ‘parenting classes.’ In the meantime, he and his sons should continue regular supervised family visits. Given the family’s close bond, maintaining the above visitation schedule would be beneficial to both children and Mr. Powell.”

The second report was filed Jan. 31, after Manley reviewed the images. He said while more information was needed, “the reviewed images indicate someone’s fantasy-laden view of having sex with children. This is not a healthy parenting perception.”

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