“It is a federal crime to knowingly possess, manufacture, distribute, or access with intent to view child pornography (18 U.S.C. §2252). In addition, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws criminalizing the possession, manufacture, and distribution of child pornography. As a result, a person who violates these laws may face federal and/or state charges.”
Images of animated incestuous sex were found on Josh Powell’s computer after his wife Susan was reported missing in 2009. According to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department the images were realistic computer-generated depictions of parent-child sex. So, why, after Utah authorities discovered these images, was Josh allowed to retain custody of his children? Why did Chuck Cox, Susan’s father and the boy’s grandfather, only learn about this revelation this morning as he was being interviewed on the Today Show?
In Utah, possession of child pornography is classified as a felony of the second degree. The penalty for individuals convicted of a felony of the second degree is 1-15 years in prison and a possible $10,000 fine. The authorities found child pornography on Josh’s computer shortly after his wife Susan disappeared, so they knew that he was guilty of a felony of the second degree. Yet, they allowed him to leave the state unimpeded. Had they pursued those charges instead, Josh would be in prison right now and Charley and Braden would still be alive.
The newly revealed incest animation was referenced during a court appearance last week. Josh was attempting to regain custody of his children which he lost when his father, with whom he was living, was arrested on child pornography and voyeurism related charges last September. At a custody hearing last week, the judge ruled that Josh would have to undergo an extensive psychosexual evaluation, polygraph test, and counseling before he could regain custody of the boys. There is no way that Josh could hold up under such close scrutiny. Like a rat in a corner, Josh Powell had nowhere to run, and there was no place left to hide.
Since acquiring custody in September 2011, the boys, once “disconnected, like robots,” were “slowly but surely realizing that they were safe and happy.” Where they used to run away from their grandparents when they talked about Susan, they now engaged the conversation. For the first time since their mother’s 2009 disappearance Charlie and Braden were in a nurturing environment that allowed them to share their feelings and perhaps even their secrets.
One of the reasons Chuck and Judy Cox wanted custody of the children was to protect them from their father. Charlie and Braden’s intuition was acute, but for naught. They disliked attending the supervised visitations with daddy. Last Sunday Josh Powell committed the ultimate act of abuse against his two boys. Was he simply trying to cover up the truth about what happened to Susan, or was something even more sinister going on?
Many incarcerated sex offenders justify their behavior by telling you that they were abused when they were children. In other words, they were caught up in a generational cycle of abuse, mirroring behavior that was perpetrated upon them and paying it forward to the next generation of children. I won’t pretend to understand the psychology of this behavior; only that it occurs often enough that should be taken seriously.
We now know that Josh Powell and his father Steven both kept secrets. They both had child pornography on their computers. Steven videotaped women and children, including Susan, without their knowledge. Josh had a very troubled past that included attempted suicide, a threat to murder his mother with a butcher knife, and killing his sister’s pet hamster. One has to wonder what prompts a young boy to acts of extreme violence, and why those acts are only now being revealed. What other dark secrets are buried in the Powell family history?
The final burning question that will never be answered might explain the whole sordid mess. Did Josh murder his wife because she caught him having sex with one or both of their young sons?