DSHS spokesman pushes back at critics, defends handling of Powell case

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on February 9, 2012 at 5:34 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 9 at 11:06 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Material stored on Josh Powell's computer may have prompted a Pierce County judge to order Powell to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation just days before he killed his children and himself.

The documents and images were recovered by police in West Valley, Utah, and sent to the Pierce County Sheriff's Department under a restrictive court order on Feb. 1. According to Washington's Department of Social and Health Services Public Affairs Senior Director Thomas Shapley, the material prompted the court to stop a process that likely would have returned Charlie, 7, and Braden, 5, to their father's custody.

Pierce County detectives describe some of the material found on Josh Powell's computer as very realistic "life like" simulations of incestuous parent child sexual relations. 

Shapley said this material was so disturbing that it prompted the state psychologist consulting in the custody case to change his opinion and recommend that the court prevent the return of the children.

Washington state Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, requested that DSHS hand over all the information it received from Utah police about the investigation into Josh Powell, his missing wife, Susan Cox Powell, and their children.

Roach sent a letter to DSHS Secretary Robin Arnold-Williams, asking the agency to provide the records, citing news reports that police in Utah had been conducting a murder investigation into Susan Powell’s disappearance for at least six months.

Shapley said DSHS remains under a court order preventing the disclosure of the Utah information, but the agency is working with the Utah courts to obtain some flexibility in releasing more information.

"Sen. Roach seems to think we drug our feet or we failed to act on the information out of Utah," Shapley told KING 5 News. "We acted on it."

Earlier on Thursday, Roach issued a statement urging DSHS "to come clean" with what it knew about Josh Powell in the days leading up to Sunday's murder-suicide.

"It appears DSHS was forewarned about information regarding Joshua Powell and the treatment of his boys. ...  Having information pertinent to the welfare of the Powell children, and not acting on it, may have actually contributed to their deaths," said Roach.

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