Husband of missing Utah mom subject in porn case


by Associated Press and KING 5 News

Posted on September 27, 2011 at 11:15 AM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 28 at 9:53 AM

TACOMA, Wash. - The husband of a missing Utah woman is the subject of a child pornography and voyeurism investigation that has already ensnared his father, a lawyer for the Washington state attorney general said Tuesday.

The comments came during a court hearing in Pierce County Superior Court as the parents of missing Susan Powell sought custody of her children.

"He's a subject of that investigation," said John Long, who represented Child Protective Services at the hearing.

Josh Powell immediately denied any such activity and noted he hasn't been arrested or charged with anything.

"I have had nothing to do with any kind of illegal pornography," he said.

Powell has been living at the home of his father, Steve Powell, in the Tacoma suburb of Puyallup with his two sons, ages 4 and 6, since his wife disappeared in December 2009.

Authorities said that when they searched the home recently looking for evidence in the disappearance, they found child pornography and other troubling videos in Steve Powell's bedroom.

Steve Powell was arrested last Thursday and pleaded not guilty to 14 charges of voyeurism and one of possession of child pornography. He remains jailed on $200,000 bail. Prosecutors said that for at least a decade, he had been secretly filming women, including Susan Powell, and that he shot footage of two young neighbor girls as they took baths and sat on the toilet.

The arrest prompted the state to place the children in temporary foster care, while Susan Powell's parents sought immediate custody of the boys. They wrote in court papers that they believed Josh Powell's arrest in her disappearance was imminent.

In court Tuesday, their attorney, Steve Downing, told the judge that the children were being harmed because they had never received counseling about their mother's disappearance, they might have been exposed to the inappropriate videos and they had been cut off from their maternal grandparents without explanation.

"Those kids may know something, and he sure as the dickens doesn't want them talking to anybody," Downing told Judge Kathryn Nelson.

Powell countered that he's a good, loving father; that the children are not at risk; and that they've never been exposed to porn of any kind. He also made clear that his family would not be posting bail for his father, and that if Steve Powell somehow managed to return home, Josh Powell would take the boys and stay at a hotel.

"There is no clear and present danger to my sons," he said.

The judge took the matter under consideration and told the parties to reconvene Wednesday morning.

CPS temporarily gave the Powell boys to Chuck and Judy Cox. On Wednesday the judge could rule to make that a more permanent arrangement

Josh Powell continues to be a person of interest in the disappearance of his wife, Utah mother and Puyallup native Susan Powell, who hasn't been seen since December of 2009.

The attorney for Susan Powell's parents told the court, "My clients believe Josh Powell is directly responsible for their daughter's disappearance."  Josh Powell said he did not harm his wife.

The Powells' sons had been living with their father at the Puyallup home of Josh's father. The boys were taken into protective custody after Steven Powell's arrest last week. 

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said Utah police found "thousands of images of females being videotaped without their knowledge, including Susan Powell," on tapes and discs seized from his home during an Aug. 25 search as part of their investigation into her disappearance. The images included shots of two girls who were as young as 8 and 10 years old at the time who lived near Powell's house.

Josh Powell said his father will not be posting bail.

"He will not be coming home," he said.