Special Reports

1992 divorce details Powell behavior

SPOKANE – Susan Cox Powell’s father-in-law once was accused of inappropriately discussing sex with children and keeping pornography in his home against the wishes of his wife, according to court documents.

A 1992 divorce case reviewed by The Associated Press shows Steve Powell’s ex-wife, Terri Powell, accusing him of damaging his children’s respect for marriage.

He was charged last week with child pornography and voyeurism after authorities investigating Susan Powell’s disappearance searched his Puyallup home.

Her husband, Josh Powell, has been named a person of interest in the case and has been living with Steve Powell.

In the court documents, Terri Powell wrote that her husband talked of teaching his children about birth control methods when they were as young as 9.

Terri Powell’s sister, Becky Mulcahy, wrote in the documents that Steve Powell told her he had shown his youngest children books about sexual intercourse when they were 6 and 8.

Terri Powell said her husband viewed people as animals and felt that they should be able to have sex with anyone at any time. She recalled a conversation in which Josh Powell referred to a girl his brother, Johnny, liked.

“All she is good for is her body, right Dad?” Terri Powell recalled Josh saying.

“Yeah, that’s right,” Steve Powell replied, according to the declaration.

Terri Powell also said Steve Powell kept hardcore pornography in the home and that he visited pornography shops.

Jennifer Graves, Josh Powell’s sister, said in an interview with The Associated Press that she broke off ties with her father in part because of his problems with sex and pornography. She recalled going on a business trip with her father when she was about 11 and that he viewed a pornographic video while she was with him.

“Looking back, I wonder, if he was willing to do that with a 10- to-12-year-old girl – his daughter – in the room, what else would he be willing to do?” she said.

Steve Powell has pleaded not guilty to 14 charges of voyeurism and one of possession of child pornography. He remains in jail in lieu of $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.

Josh Powell has said he did not see pornography at his father’s home and had nothing to do with any kind of illegal activity. He also has denied any involvement in his wife’s disappearance.

Follow more of our reporting on The disappearance of Susan Powell and the murder of her sons

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