Steven Powell arrested for voyeurism, possession of child porn

AP: f999e8da-cf8a-413f-a0f5-1f8f5711b810
Steven Powell, the father-in-law of missing Utah woman Susan Powell, appears in Pierce County courtroom, Friday, Sept. 23, 2011, in Tacoma, Wash. Powell, who was arrested Thursday, plead not guilty to charges of voyeurism and possession of child pornography. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) | Zoom
The father-in-law of a missing Puyallup woman, Susan Cox Powell, has been arrested for voyeurism and possession of child porn.

Steven Powell, Josh Powell's father, is charged with 14 counts of voyeurism involving two children and one count of Possession of Depictions of Minors Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct in the Second Degree. He plead not guilty on all charges, and did not speak during the hearing.

His Puyallup home, that he shares with Josh, is at the center of an ongoing investigation into the disappearance of his daughter-in-law. Police from West Valley City, Utah and Pierce County served a search warrant on Aug. 25 and hauled away several computers, which they now say include a cache of photos and recordings. Police say they found "thousands of images of females being photographed without their knowledge, including Susan Powell and many minors."

"They were actually looking for evidence in the ongoing homicide investigation regarding Susan Powell, but in the course of this search, they found thousands of videos, over 100 of which appear to have been shot by Steven Powell," Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist tells 97.3 KIRO FM.

"The photographer focuses on the women's buttocks, breasts," said Lindquist in a statement.

Investigators claim several of the victims, both adults and minors, say they did not give Powell permission to be photographed.

According Lindquist's office, the mother of two young girls videotaped explained to police she left the window open because it was hot during bath time.

"Crying, she said that she never thought someone would be watching and photographing her daughters."

"The videos show the girls bathing, using the toilet, and dressing and undressing," said Lindquist.

Police say videos taken of former neighbors, who lived next door from June, 2006 to Aug. 2007, line up with Powell's bedroom window.

If convicted, Powell could face a standard sentence of up to five years in prison. He is expected to be arraigned on Friday.

After the arrest, the attorney for Susan Powell's father, Chuck Cox, filed a petition for custody of his daughter's two children. The boys, ages 4 and 6, had been living at their grandfather's home with their father, Josh Powell.

A lawyer for the state attorney general said the boys had been placed in foster care since Thursday's arrest.

A court commissioner said Friday that he will not decide on the custody of the sons until after the state's child welfare agency finishes its investigation. Another hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

Chuck Cox's daughter, Susan, has been missing from her home in Utah since Dec. 2009. Her husband Josh is a person of interest in the case, but has never been charged. He has told police he was out camping in the desert with the couple's two young sons on the night of his wife's disappearance.

Authorities have spent the last 10 days searching a remote central Utah desert about 30 miles from where Josh Powell claims he went camping that night. At one point, they said they found a "shallow grave" after cadaver dogs alerted them to the spot, but they later found no human remains.

The search of the Powell's home came after police wrapped up a search for evidence in a network of abandoned mines outside Ely, Nev.

Around that time in August, Josh Powell and his father went on national television to discuss the case. They claimed Susan Powell was promiscuous, emotionally unstable and suicidal, a claim her family denies.

Steve Powell said he had a flirtatious relationship with his daughter-in-law and believed they were in love.

"Susan was very sexual with me," Steve Powell told ABC's Good Morning America. "We interacted in a lot of sexual ways because Susan enjoys doing that."

Susan's father, Chuck Cox, denied the allegations, and said it was Steve Powell who initiated unwanted sexual advances.

"The only two people on the planet that I'm aware of that are saying anything like this, is Steven Powell, and Joshua Powell is not confirming. Joshua Powell is not denying, but he's not confirming, and he's the person of interest here," Cox said in an appearance on 97.3 KIRO FM's Dori Monson Show.

Listen to Dori Monson interview with Chuck Cox in September

Kiirsi Helewell, a friend of Susan Powell, told The Dori Monson Show that Powell would never have entered into a relationship with her father-in-law.

"It is a total lie. Susan would never ever allow her father-in-law to touch her. She hated him. She told me many times that she hated him. She could not stand him. She only put up with visiting him when they went to Washington to visit their families because it was Josh's family and he deserved to spend time with his family."

In another twist to the story, it also came to light that Steven Powell recorded an album under a different name, full of titles like, "I love it when you dance for me," and "My little doll."

Listen to report: Steven Powell, aka Steve Chantrey, sings of forbidden love

Josh and his father have said they believe Susan Powell ran off with another man.

"I'm still thinking she left," Steve Powell told the AP in August. "Hopefully they'll be able to find her at some point ... We don't believe she's dead."

Josh Powell has denied killing his wife or having anything to do with her disappearance.

"I would never even hurt her," a tearful, red-eyed Josh Powell told CBS' Early Show in August.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


MyNorthwest.com, Staff report
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