Powell Family Secrets

“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?

The Son of a Bitch Tried to Chop Off Their Heads!

No wonder he always looked like he was sucking on lemons. He was holding back a taste much more acerbic than lemon juice. First he killed their mother, his wife, and concocted a cockamamie alibi that carried him forth until he could commit the ultimate betrayal. Then the son of a bitch tried to chop off their heads before immolating them in a homemade inferno that also spat him back into the hell from which he came.

The disappearance of Susan Powell was never a real mystery. Josh murdered Susan on December 6, 2009. The weather was bitter cold. I can almost imagine Susan watching the 5:00 pm weatherman predict that a winter storm was projected to drop more than a foot of snow overnight. Of course she agreed when he closed his forecast with, “You do not need to travel tonight.”

Susan, her husband and sons, were reported missing by her parents the next morning. Josh and the boys showed up later that evening, but not Susan. She was never seen again!
Josh’s story was a poorly fabricated lie. But it seemed to fool the authorities, because, as we found out only after the fact, her disappearance was not reclassified as a murder until almost two years later. Josh was considered a “person of interest”, but apparently not enough interest to actually hinder his style.
About a month later Josh packed up the boys and moved out of state to live with his father, another lemon-sucking pervert, in Puyallup, Washington. Josh and his father Steven launched a campaign to assassinate Susan’s character and threatened to publish her childhood journals online. A judge issued a permanent injunction stopping that plan. Shortly thereafter Steven Powell was arrested on child pornography and voyeurism related charges. Steven’s daughter Jennifer Graves expressed relief after hearing that her father had been arrested, telling a reporter, “They’re getting him off the streets now and he won’t be able to take advantage of innocents in the future.” Steven remains in Jail, but somehow Josh was able to slither under the radar one more time.

He lost custody of the children to Susan’s parents, but not access. A judge gave him supervised visits. The boys began to blossom once they escaped Josh’s toxic influence. I’m using toxic as a synonym for evil here. They may have even begun to talk about the night Susan disappeared. I wonder if Josh was aware that his son Braden may have drawn a picture of a van with three people in it and told caregivers it showed his family going camping and that, “Mommy’s in the trunk.”  We could ask him, but…oh no, we can’t because he’s in Hell and still not cooperating with the authorities.

Josh Powell carried more red flags than a Chinese New Year parade. He showed no remorse or regret that his wife was missing. His alibi was a pitiful fabrication. He wasn’t cooperating with the police. His own sister hated him. His father was a known pervert. He segregated the kids from Susan’s family as he allowed them to be exposed to perversion. He tried to assassinate Susan’s character. It was all there in plain sight. Why couldn’t the court see the facts that screamed from the headlines for more than two years?

Penn State’s Shame

Child sexual abuse is all sexual activity between an adult and child. Certain sexual activity between children is also sexual abuse.


In light of recent revelations surrounding the Penn State and now Syracuse University sex scandals, parents are rightly concerned about the safety of their own children. After all, if we cannot trust institutions of higher learning to protect and not exploit our children, then who can we trust? Unfortunately, child sexual abuse has existed in the seamy underbelly of society forever. Usually, we try to ignore it, but sometimes, and this is one of those times, the revelations are so gross and disturbing that we must engage the debate. What is child sexual abuse, what is being done to prevent it, are my kids being abused, and how can I personally engage this issue?


The widespread institutional abuse of children has been common knowledge ever since the Catholic sex abuse scandal started receiving broad public attention in 2001. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that individuals that want to abuse and exploit our children will seek positions that will provide them with unsupervised access to children. We see it in the non-profit world, schools, pre-schools, churches, fraternal organizations and the athletic field. This is why President Clinton signed the Volunteers for Children Act of 1998. Now organizations and businesses dealing with children, elderly, and the disabled may use national fingerprint-based criminal history checks to screen out volunteers and employees with relevant criminal records. The Internet has provided a new virtual playground that needs to be the topic of its own story.


We should be aware of the warning signs in children and adolescents of possible child sexual abuse. If very young children have knowledge about specific sex acts it is not age appropriate sexual behavior and warrants further investigation. The same goes with young children behaving sexually in public places.


Behaviors to watch for when adults are with children include: inappropriate touching, hugging, or kissing, particularly when the child resists. Secret interactions with children also raise a red flag. When the adult seems ‘too good to be true’ and offers to babysit, take your children on unsupervised outings, lavishes gifts or inappropriate praise, you have reason for concern. Signs that an adult may be at-risk to harm a child include spending most of their free time with kids, and having a ‘special’ child friend that may change from year to year.


Signs that a child or teen may be at-risk to harm another child include spending inordinate time with younger children rather than peers, or forced sexual interaction on other children. Also, children may be at-risk of harming other children if they have not received appropriate counseling for their own abuse issues.


Coach Jerry Sandusky

So, how do we as responsible adults combat the insidious onslaught of child sexual abuse in our own communities? Insist that groups and organizations that you interact with to have written and transparent policy guiding adult/child behavior. Support local non-profit organizations that deal with child abuse issues and report instances of suspected abuse.


Society needs to look upon this as a learning opportunity. The Catholic Church has not yet recovered from their ongoing sex scandal because they did not respond appropriately. Instead of facing the situation head on, they tried to cover up, dismiss and deny sexual abuse in their own ranks. To that end, their standing in the world and the faith based community remains tainted. Were it not for their ubiquitous position and unprecedented wealth the Catholic Church would not have survived their shame.


Any individual involved in the cover-up of child sexual abuse at Penn State or any other institution of higher learning needs to be removed from their position of trust and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Society demands that the safety of children is the highest priority and those that abuse that trust must be held accountable. To do less is simply another form of child abuse.


In light of these new charges and allegations every school in America now has the opportunity to evaluate their own internal policies. They can get ahead of the situation by sweeping their own records. How have they handled sex abuse situations in the past? Take a look at current allegations and decide whether they have made the correct choices. If they take that step then the Penn State and Syracuse victims will at least have a legacy.