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Judge sentences 'creep of a neighbor' Steven Powell to 30 months

Mother can't forgive him for stealing daughters' sense of security

Published: Friday, June 15 2012 8:04 p.m. MDT

Steve Powell is led from a courtroom shortly after being sentenced to 30 months in prison for voyeurism, Friday, June 15, 2012, in Tacoma, Wash. Powell, the father-in-law of missing mom Susan Powell, was convicted last month based on evidence that was uncovered during the police investigation into the 2009 disappearance of his daughter-in-law, who has never been found.

Ted S. Warren, AP

TACOMA, Wash. — In the end, the sentence Steven Powell received was about two girls. 

Two girls who were "crushed" when they learned they had been filmed in the bathroom of their own home without their knowledge, their mother said. Two girls who experienced "embarrassment and heartache" as a result of Steven Powell's actions.

"They have to carry this forever with them," their mother said Friday. "And while I didn't know you were watching my girls, I do know that somebody was watching you. And you better pray that he forgives you, because I can't."

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper said he felt Powell's actions warranted an exceptional sentence and ordered the 62-year-old man to serve 30 months in custody and up to three years on probation. Powell will have to take a psychosexual examination, undergo sexual deviance treatment and pay restitution to his victims, who are now in counseling.

"Here we have two little girls doing nothing but minding their own business and their creep of a neighbor is peering at them, leering at them," Culpepper said. "There's something seriously wrong with Mr. Powell's view of women in the world."

But the judge said he cannot hold Powell accountable for the disappearance of his daughter-in-law Susan Cox Powell and wanted to be careful not to sentence him because of the notoriety of that case.

"I know some people want Mr. Powell to rot in prison for the rest of his life," Culpepper said. "But I don't think that's appropriate. ... As far as I know, there's nothing to indicate he was involved (in the disappearance)."

Powell did not react or show any emotion during the hearing. He did not respond to the sentence or to the harsh words of the victims' mother. When asked if he had anything to say, he responded: "No, sir."

"A lot of people are curious about what you might have to say," Culpepper prodded.

Powell paused for a moment, looked at the judge, and repeated himself.

"No, sir."

Powell was given credit for the 267 days he has already served. With the possibility of a good behavior reduction, the sentence will be closer to 26 months. With the credit, Powell will likely spend just over another 16 months in custody.

"I guess I'm one of those who wants to see him locked away forever," said Chuck Cox, Susan Powell's father. "Thirty months is a slap in the face to the victims."

Anne Bremner, attorney for the girls, said their parents "definitely feel 10 years is too light." They declined to comment after the sentencing. But before the hearing started, Bremner was taken into a back room where she served Powell with a lawsuit for "general wrongful acts, invasion of privacy, outrage and voyeurism."

In court, the victims' mother was full of emotion as she called Powell a "disgusting neighbor" and strongly chastised him. She said while Powell may believe humans are "more like animals and should do as they wish with no regard to others," she believes people "should act like humans and take responsibility for how we choose to behave."

"I have yet to hear you apologize. You've sat there smugly as if it's perfectly normal to commit your crimes," she said to Powell. "Shame on you! Shame on you for not admitting what you did was wrong, and for not admitting it at all."

She struggled to speak through her tears as she told Powell how angry she was and how difficult this has been for her children.

"They did nothing to you, but you've stolen their sense of security," the woman said.

Powell was convicted by a jury on 14 counts of voyeurism in May. But before the sentence was issued Friday, Culpepper dismissed two of those charges.

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