Steven Powell asks state to pay for treatment

He was ordered to get sex offender treatment, but wasn’t offered it while incarcerated; state says he didn’t qualify

Staff writerApril 16, 2014 

Steven Powell

This photo provided by Washington Department of Corrections, Steven Powell is shown. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Norah West says Powell will be released March 23, 2014 at the end of his 30-month sentence for voyeurism.

WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

Convicted voyeur Steven Powell wants the state to pick up the tab for his court-ordered sex offender treatment.

In a motion filed April 2 in Pierce County Superior Court, Powell — the father-in-law of presumed murder victim Susan Cox Powell — argues that the state Department of Corrections did not make sex offender treatment available to him while he was in prison as it should have.

He wants a judge to order the department to pay for his treatment now that he’s been released.

In a response filed Tuesday, John Samson, an assistant state attorney general who represents the Corrections Department, said Powell is wrong. He did not qualify for sex offender treatment while in prison, and corrections officials were within their discretion to deny it to him, Samson wrote.

“Powell fails to cite a single statute that mandates the department to provide him with sex offender treatment,” the assistant attorney general wrote. “Powell cannot cite such a statute because no such statute exists.”

Judge Ronald Culpepper is to hear arguments on the matter Friday.

Powell, 64, was convicted in Pierce County two years ago of multiple counts of voyeurism for photographing two school-age girls as they bathed and used the toilet in the house next door to his Puyallup-area home. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison and also ordered to undergo sex offender treatment.

Powell was released late last month.

In his motion, Powell contends Sally Nieland, superintendent of the Twin Rivers correctional unit near Monroe, should have offered him a spot in a year-long treatment program when he was transferred there in August 2012 even though he was eligible, because of good behavior, for release nine months later.

Nieland declined to enroll Powell in the program, in part because he was not scheduled to be at Twin Rivers for the year necessary to complete it.

Powell argued in his handwritten motion that Nieland knew the likelihood of his getting out in nine months was slim and that she should have put him in the program. Indeed, the Corrections Department kept Powell locked up until March 23, which was at the end of his maximum sentence.

Powell contends the department now is unfairly forcing him to pay for his sex offender treatment.

“DOC has notified defendant that he will begin (treatment) with a therapist, at his own expense, on April 7, 2014, barely two weeks after his release from TRU prison,” Powell wrote in his pleading. “Defendant respectfully asks this court to issue a writ of mandamus requiring DOC to pay for defendant’s court-ordered (treatment).”

Samson said in his response that Powell is citing a statute that regulates treatment of a different level of convicted sex offender: Mainly sex offenders sentenced to a minimum term of incarceration with the maximum term to be determined by the state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board.

While those people qualify for treatment in prison, Powell was not sentenced under that scheme, the assistant attorney general said, so the state had no duty to provide him treatment.

“Finally, Powell cannot show any authority that requires the department to pay for Powell’s treatment in the community,” Samson wrote.

The case against Powell began in 2011 when detectives searched his home looking for clues into the disappearance of his daughter-in-law. Powell’s son, Josh Powell, was under investigation in the disappearance and presumed murder of his wife at the time.

Susan Cox Powell disappeared from the family home in Utah five years ago.

During the search, detectives found a disc containing photographs and video of girls and women in various stages of undress. Steve Powell later was charged with voyeurism, and a jury convicted him at trial in May 2012.

Josh Powell, who was never charged in his wife’s disappearance, killed his and Susan Cox Powell’s two young sons and himself in Pierce County in February 2012.

Some of Susan Cox Powell’s relatives and friends believe Steve Powell knows what happened to her, but he has remained quiet.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644 adam.lynn@ thenewstribune.com @TNTadam

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