SPOKANE, Wash. — The father-in-law of a missing Utah woman was once 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 shows Steven Powell's ex-wife accusing him of damaging his children's respect for marriage. Powell was charged this month with child pornography and voyeurism after authorities investigating the disappearance of Susan Powell searched his home in Puyallup.
Susan Powell's husband, Josh, has been named a person of interest in the case, and he was recently living with Steven Powell.
In the court documents, Terri Powell wrote that Steven Powell talked of teaching his children about birth control methods when they were as young as 9 years old. Terri's sister, Becky Mulcahy, wrote in the documents that Steven Powell told her that he had shown his youngest children books about sexual intercourse when they were 6 and 8 years old.
Terri Powell, who now lives in Utah but has gone out of her way to avoid media attention, said her husband viewed people as animals and that they should be able to have sex with anyone at any time. She recalled a conversation in which Josh referred to a girl his brother, Johnny, liked.
"All she is good for is her body, right Dad?" Terri recalled Josh saying.
"Yeah, that's right," Steven Powell replied, according to the declaration.
Terri Powell also said Steven Powell kept hardcore pornography in the home and that he visited pornography shops.
Jennifer Graves, Josh Powell's sister, said 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 years old 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.
Steven Powell has pleaded not guilty to 14 charges of voyeurism and one of possession of child pornography. He remains jailed on $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.
Susan Powell's family is now seeking custody of her children, a request Child Protective Services has temporarily granted.
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
Josh Powell has also denied any involvement in his wife's disappearance and continues to wear his wedding ring. He has said he took his boys, then 2 and 4, on a late night camping trip in freezing temperatures the day his wife disappeared from their West Valley City home.