Steven Powell has no excuse not to pay $1.8 million, attorney says

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 12 2013 9:35 p.m. MST

Steve Powell is led out of Judge Ronald E. Culpepper's courtroom after being found guilty of 14 counts of voyeurism in the Pierce County Superior Court in Tacoma, Washington Wednesday May 16, 2012.

Steve Griffin

Enlarge photo»

TACOMA, Wash. — Steven Powell doesn't have any legal reason for opposing the $1.8 million penalty levied against him other than he simply doesn't want to pay it.

That's what attorney Anne Bremner argues in court documents filed in Washington on Tuesday.

"(Powell) does not even suggest he has a defense; his motion to vacate instead focuses on his dissatisfaction with the outcome," she wrote.

Last week, Powell, 63, filed handwritten documents to the Pierce County Superior Court in Tacoma, claiming the damages awarded to the two young neighbor girls who were the focus of his voyeuristic picture-taking were "excessive." He said there was "no evidence or reasonable inference from the evidence to justify" paying $1.8 million.

Powell was convicted in May of 2012 by a Tacoma jury of 14 counts of voyeurism for taking photographs of two neighbor girls, then ages 8 and 10, with a telephoto lens while they were nude or partially nude in their bathroom.

Bremner, who represents the two girls, personally served Powell the civil lawsuit on the day he was sentenced for his criminal case in June of 2012.

But Powell never filed a response.

After more than a year without a response, Bremner moved for a default order from the court. Powell filed for a motion to vacate the judgment against him after he was served with the default order. Powell claimed he didn't know he had to pay and currently does not have an attorney.

But Bremner said she doesn't buy the notion that Powell didn't know about the civil lawsuit.

"The motion to vacate does not include a single defense that (Powell) would have to the underlying case," Bremner wrote in her response. "The motion does not include any context for explanation for (Powell's) failure to secure counsel.

"Defendant has not even hinted at the existence of a defense, much less identified 'substantial evidence,'" she continued. "There are not facts (Powell) can contest, and vacating the judgment would be futile. … If there is no defense, vacating the judgment would be a pointless exercise for all involved."

Simply arguing that $1.8 million is too much is not grounds for vacating a judgement, Bremner wrote. Furthermore, she said having to put the young girls through another hearing would be traumatizing.

"This case is about the trauma experienced by one family at the hands of (Powell); forcing relitigation and further confrontation serves only to deepen the scars of a mother and her children," she argued.

A judge is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the motion Friday in Tacoma. It was unknown if Powell will be present for the hearing.

Last week, the girls' mother filed a writ of garnishment against Powell and his credit union. With interest, the writ claims Powell now owes the family $1.9 million. If a writ of garnishment is approved by a judge, the family can take whatever is currently in Powell's bank account.

While Bremner admitted that seeking $1.9 million was in part symbolic, there is also a real need by the victims for counseling.

Powell has been eligible for early release from prison since May but has been unable to come up with a required "offender release plan" that the Washington Department of Corrections will approve. If he fails to come up with one, he will be released in March after serving his entire sentence.

Steven Powell is the father-in-law of Susan Cox Powell, who has been missing from her West Valley City home since late 2009.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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