Sins of the father: Steven Powell's behavior leaves a legacy of harm

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  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    May 13, 2012 11:19 a.m.

    Just in case you hadn't noticed, this is one --seriously-- messed up person.

    To say he's had an evil effect on his family is to say cyanide can make you feel, "icky".

    I hope he's put in a place where is sickness can be treated and, most importantly, isolated.

  • Jim Mesa, Az
    May 10, 2012 4:22 p.m.

    There is a direct correlation between pornography and sexual abuse. Does this mean that everyone that views porn committs seuxal abuse. No it doesn't. But people who view porn like to act on the things that they see. Just because you don't hear about it, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. I have personally investigated many child seuxal abuse allegations and the perp usually starts off by talking about their addiction to porn. Pornography is very dangerous, it is counterfiet and for those addicted to it, it is a drug that they can not get enough of. I find that people who embrace the church then fell off can become like the Zoramites of old. Powell is no diffent.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    May 7, 2012 11:56 p.m.

    Mormon Cowboy: "had Josh just obeyed the ten commandments he would have never murdered his sons, right?" Yes, that's right. He wouldn't have gotten close to doing the terrible things he did. He would have been a decent husband and father and stayed that way. It's not too complicated.

  • Mosesstone1980 Las Vegas, Nevada
    May 7, 2012 12:40 p.m.

    While MormonCowboy may get an intellectual "kick" out of splitting hairs over the pornography and its effects/non-effects issue, I will unequivocally call pornography evil in all its forms. What the article seems to insinuates is: it was his pornography addiction that started him on the path to his departure from the church; or, as Elder Maxwell noted "..I saw a few leave the Church who could then never leave it alone. They used often their intellectual reservations to cover their behavioral lapses."
    At least according to Steven Powell's ex-wife and Greaves' opinion, this seems possibly the case.

  • Lasvegaspam Henderson, NV
    May 7, 2012 12:30 p.m.

    The link between adult and child porn is observed globally,
    and it is nothing new. Sixteen years ago, at the 1996 World
    Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children,
    Margaret Healy stated in a paper titled “Child Pornography:
    An International Perspective” that “with the emergence of
    the use of computers to traffic in child pornography, a new
    and growing segment of producers and consumers is being
    identified. They are individuals who may not have a sexual
    preference for children, but who have seen the gamut of
    adult pornography and who are searching for more bizarre

    Muireann O’Brian also observed this in her
    work with child sexual abusers. She heads the Bangkok office
    of End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism,a global organization that helps police and lawyers target child molesters. She
    pointed out that “arrests have shown men with perfectly
    normal sexual proclivities become seduced, then involved
    and finally addicted to child pornography.”

    To those of you who say, “tsk tsk Nobody is harmed by my porn use”, I say, your ignorance and self-absorption is showing.

    To others who want to understand this addiction, go to morality in media dot com or pornharms dot com.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 7, 2012 10:51 a.m.

    Ouch JSB - I suppose by that logic, had Josh just obeyed the ten commandments he would have never murdered his sons, right? Sort of misses the point though, doesn't it? The only way you comment offers any real insight is to assume that pornography caused all of this. The data just doesn't bear out that conclusion on aggregate scale. As for the particulars of this case, we still don't know enough to start deriving causes, which is why I object to this article. It has jumped to the conclusion that pornography and apostasy were the causes, not on the basis of clear fact, but out of a desire to use this case to serve a religious agenda.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    May 7, 2012 10:15 a.m.

    Re: "One comes away from Mr. Reavy's work with the impression that Steven Powell's pornography-viewing and LDS-disenchantment were proximate causes of Susan Powell's and her children's deaths. Amazing."

    But true.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    May 7, 2012 10:07 a.m.

    "That's a reason why the covenants are so important. They are a great protection against so much that is wicked and sordid and tragic in this world."

    You mean, like, Coffee?

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    May 7, 2012 9:36 a.m.

    Re Mormon Cowboy: "What sort of irks me about this article though is not the overt "blame it all on porn" tone of the report, but the included "it was because he left the Church" bit. Certainly this man is a menace with problems, but to suggest that it was because he left the Church, or indulged in pornography is pathetic."

    But the fact is that if Steven Powell had lived true to his LDS "covenants" none of this would have happened. His porn addition was a violation of his covenants. He then decided to blame the LDS church and the rest is history. That's a reason why the covenants are so important. They are a great protection against so much that is wicked and sordid and tragic in this world.

  • JCH San Diego, CA
    May 7, 2012 9:31 a.m.

    Was this article -- sourced exclusively from court filings and an estranged daughter -- meant to read as a "Scared Straight" screed? Steven Powell seems to be an unloveable nut, but I am stunned by the messaging here, unsubtle even by the standards of the new ("more Mormon," in the publisher's words) Deseret News.

    One comes away from Mr. Reavy's work with the impression that Steven Powell's pornography-viewing and LDS-disenchantment were proximate causes of Susan Powell's and her children's deaths. Amazing.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 7, 2012 9:08 a.m.

    Part of the problem with the attitude represented by those such as MoJules, is that they like to characterize the issue as a binary matter. Either you are preaching against pornography, or you are advocating it's use. I can list a number of things that I find objectionable about pornography. The conclusion that it causes sexual violence is not one of them. That it IS often sexual violence is what bothers me about it. Again, however, the article didn't just imply pornography as the motivator, but that also Steven Powell became increasingly distrustful of the Mormon Church. That somehow his progressive apostasy caused this behavior. That is absolutely bogus. Furthermore, nobody has tackled the polygamy issue. It seems that, as per the article, Powell was progressing in his sexual deviance, his fantasies had Mormon polygamy context to them. Still, we can make the apostasy connection, the porn connection, but not the polygamy connection. That is a bit of a convenient analysis.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    May 7, 2012 6:11 a.m.

    This is certainly NOT a defense of porn, but sometimes there can be an unhealthy line drawn.

    In Italy, there are beautiful works of art and statues everywhere. Some depict the human body in all of its glory.

    Is that Porn? Do we shelter our kids from that and cover their eyes? Do they walk away with the idea that it is "dirty"?

    How about the Rodin exhibit at BYU? They certainly had every right to show what they wanted.
    But, were those statues pornographic?

    How about an add for Victoria Secret?

    "Dirty magazines" are one thing, but when we put ALL depictions of the human body in the same category I believe that we instill an unhealthy concept to children.

  • MoJules Florissant, MO
    May 6, 2012 11:33 p.m.

    So you people that defend porn and smoke your weed while you look at your porn, all will be well with you. You will never commit adultry, you will never ignore your family, you will never be a pedifile, you will never rape, you will never think about what you view except when you view it. And while your smoking your weed, you will never lose brain cells, never be curious about other new and "interesting" drugs. No you will just sit hidden in a room, munching on chips and looking at vulgar pictures or videos, but it won't go any further then that. Yep, you will walk out of that room and have a clean pure mind and have a healthy relationship with your family, cause you are so above being destroyed by that. Yeah, Steve and Josh are prime examples of that, porn didn't destroy their lives or the lives of others. Well, I need to go find chocolate, but it won't make me fat, oh wait, I am already fat, thanks to chocolate.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 6, 2012 10:27 p.m.


    I don't see it that way. It should be acknowledged that the are speaking from a particular point of view, but notwithstanding their former proximity to Steven Powell, there is still a limit to the kinds of qualifications they are justified in making. I have little doubt that Steven Powell was sexually deviant. What I find disturbing about the hotel incident related by his daughter is not that he would watch pornography, but that he would do so with his daughter in the same room. That of course is the bigger issue. Secondly, to the point that they argue that pornography "tore our family apart", I also have little doubt that she is correct. Particularly for couples that have a strong religious aversion to pornography, he was engaging in incompatible behavior. I'm even comfortable calling it "cheating" because I am sure that Steven was under no illusion as to how his wife felt about the matter. In that sense he broke a clearly implied contract. From there however, the assertion that pornography caused his behavior, and perhaps his Daughter-in-Law's death, I don't see that the evidence warrants such a conclusion.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    May 6, 2012 5:29 p.m.

    In my professional opinion, both porn and religion are potentially dangerous, mind-altering phenomena about which we must be extremely skeptical and cautious.

    But if you are going to compare the track records of the two, I think religion has caused more harm and destruction over the course of history than has porn.

    I think the religious zealots need to consider that before going all revival on everyone.

  • guswetrust Cebterville, Utah
    May 6, 2012 4:50 p.m.

    Oh, and porno is not a "Utah" problem, nor Mormon problem so don't blame those as reasons.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    May 6, 2012 3:02 p.m.

    You are disputing what Steve Powell's ex-wife and daughter reported.

    "I think pornography played a big role in tearing our family apart," Graves said. "Because it breaks down your mind, it breaks down families, it breaks down trust. It's going to lead to other things....
    ...And then it got worse and the addiction got worse and then he started to have additional things that he was unfaithful to my mom with, like having this obsession with a woman in our ward," Graves recalled. "It just led down this path that he just refused to recognize as wrong."

    "Terri believed it was her husband's heavy travel schedule through his work that gave him an outlet to dive deeper into pornography."

    "By the time Graves was between 10 and 12 years old, she knew pornography was a problem in her parents' marriage....I remember one of the evenings I was laying on my bed and he was on his bed and he turned on this program that was just total porn."

    "he wanted to keep custody...because they had been severely affected by his wife's "bizarre perversion of religion, both Mormon and religion generally."

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    May 6, 2012 1:05 p.m.

    First - Ted Bundy is not the person I would trust as an authority on anything. The correlation to porn use, and violent sex crimes is overwhelmingly contrary to the assertion that it is causal. Whether porn is "a problem" I think largely lies with the person. My biggest apprehension to pornography is that it is too intently tied to the asian and eastern european sex trade. But that is a whole other issue. What sort of irks me about this article though is not the overt "blame it all on porn" tone of the report, but the included "it was because he left the Church" bit. Certainly this man is a menace with problems, but to suggest that it was because he left the Church, or indulged in pornography is pathetic. Interestingly it seems from the article that early on, his fetishes involved scenarios based on Polygamy with women in the Ward. Could we not conclude by the same arguments then, that the Mormon polygamy narrative also inspired his behavior? Of course no one would be willing to make that connection, so I suggest we be a little more cautious in jumping to conclusions.

  • NeilT Clearfield, UT
    May 6, 2012 11:28 a.m.

    My earlier was denied. Why I don't know. A simple question. Who is the grandson talking about when he claimed that mormons killed his mother and brother. Who is the brother. Good article, hard to follow at times. A lot of victims in this tragic saga.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    May 6, 2012 7:44 a.m.

    The comments about Ted Bundy are absolutely the truth. He was interviewed the night before his execution. He stated plainly that his problem started with pornography. He also stated, "I'm not a psycologist, but I've lived in prison a long time and every person I have ever known in prison that is like me started with pornography."

    Pornography is evil and destructive and it destroys lives and families. It has NO redeeming qualities.

  • guswetrust Cebterville, Utah
    May 5, 2012 11:15 p.m.

    Rifleman - Porn is an addiction. That is one reason it is bad. It grows, gets worse and soon is controlling the person viewing it. They want more and more. No. viewing it alone does not a killer make, but there is a link there that many criminals say, that porn, started them into darker, worse needs. Like drugs take over a person.

  • Capsaicin Salt Lake City, UT
    May 5, 2012 10:50 p.m.

    Both know the truth. Both chose not to follow it. This isn't a "sin's of the father" problem with the Powells. That can only happen when there's no truth ever taught to them. What this really is, is a question of mental illness due to chosen deliberate destructive behavior.

  • K Mchenry, IL
    May 5, 2012 10:32 p.m.

    They didn't blame pornography's ills on the world. Just these men.

    If the boys had stayed with the dad and grandpa and one of them did something to their wife and kids, would we be able to put the blame on the generation ahead of them? I do feel bad for Josh. No one was there to take him away of an unhealthy environment. What did Steven's dad do? If Steven was bad for the boys than he was bad for his kids.

    Instead of us coming up with a neat little stat to say divorced homes produce more kids who use guns in violent crimes lets find out the true cause and not just find some pattern. I wish we took them seriously.

    When you take a picture like that of someone without their consent or not of age you have abused them. There indeed has been an accusation. Several actually. Would you like to be an old neighbor of theirs with daughters? Kids? A wife?

  • Furry1993 Clearfield, UT
    May 5, 2012 10:31 p.m.

    Lasvegaspam 8:32 p.m. 5/5

    By all means continue to discuss the issues. They are BIG issues, and need to be publicized on a regular basis. People need to know what to look for, and how to protect themselves against the abuse, pornography, etc.

    The problem comes when a family is sensationalized, and the family itself diverts attention from the issues. That's what is in danger of happening here. For every case like the Powells who get a big spread in the media, there are hundreds or thousands more that don't get any attention at all because the family pictures aren't as cute as those of the Powell children, or the story isn't as much an attention-grabber, or family members aren't able to get their stories in the media, or myriad other reasons that get in the way of the issues.

    It is indeed time to continue to deal with the issues and publicize them to the greatest extent possible, but let the families in this tragedy have some peace. All of them.

  • Rifleman Salt Lake City, Utah
    May 5, 2012 9:47 p.m.

    Re: Most Truthful and Patriotic Layton, UT
    "Blaming pornography for the world's ills is popular in Utah right now, but I've never known anyone who's viewed "porn" to go off the deep end like Steven and Josh Powell."

    Ted Bundy was a serial killer who blamed porn for downfall. There is a reason why decent people in Utah blame many of the world's ills on porn. It is too bad that more people don't see it for what it is.

  • Star Bright Salt Lake City, Ut
    May 5, 2012 9:00 p.m.

    I don't understand a grandmother writing a letter in support of josh, knowing what went on in that house with the grandfather.
    I also don't understand why josh was allowed any visits with his sons after all of this came out.

    There are many problems with porn, and for young men who get started quit while you can. No young woman wants to be compared to airbrushed models and degrading and disgusting set ups.
    Maybe you have never heard of ted bundy. It started as pornography. OK, I know he was a phsyco as well, but it dominated him.

    Good luck to his daughter, and his ex wife, thank goodness you were able to get away.

  • Lasvegaspam Henderson, NV
    May 5, 2012 8:32 p.m.

    Furry 1993 - For you and others who have suggested that we (the public) need not hear any more about the Powells, your reservations only make me wonder why you feel the need to silence truth. Is there something about their story that hits too close to home for you? The point in broadcasting details such as this article covers is for other people who may be dealing with similar struggles to notice the patterns, and to hopefully seek help. Knowledge is power.

  • Furry1993 Clearfield, UT
    May 5, 2012 6:03 p.m.

    I really think we've all heard enough about the Powell family to last a lifetime. The only other stories we should b seeing re (1) the results of the Steven Powell trial and (2) in the event Susan Powell's disappearance is solved. Other than that, let both the Powell and Cox families have some peace. All of them.

  • Uncle Rico Sandy, UT
    May 5, 2012 5:42 p.m.

    The article illustrates the downward spiral of decay of a father, husband and grandfather. For years the tobacco industry said cigarettes were fine. Porn destroys, no matter how many users defend it.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    May 5, 2012 4:18 p.m.

    Re:Chris B/Most Truthfful and Patriotic

    Was DN pointing to Steve and Josh Powell's fixation on pornography or was it Steve's ex-wife and his daughter who viewed it a big factor in the demise of the family?

    "Safety valve"? That's offensive. There were victims. Steve Powell preyed upon children, and even his own daughter-in-law.

    Sure many people can drink alcohol and not become alcoholics. Some studies even show a small amount of alcohol may have beneficial health effects. Are there any studies substatiating any benefits of pornography? Pornography can/does destroy lives. I know someone (a Mormon) who worked in Los Angeles for a large corporation who lost their job because they had viewed pornography while at work. He was one of two Mormons who worked at the firm.

    At least alcohol leaves the body. One can't "un see" pornography once it has been viewed.

  • O'really Idaho Falls, ID
    May 5, 2012 4:16 p.m.

    Those who try to defend porn are playing with very explosive matches.

  • gdog3finally West Jordan, Utah
    May 5, 2012 2:57 p.m.

    Given the family tree of horror, if Kirk and Jennifer Graves are able to have a functional life as I want to believe they can, then they would be miracle workers. I wish them well.

  • Most Truthful and Patriotic Layton, UT
    May 5, 2012 1:35 p.m.

    Blaming pornography for the world's ills is popular in Utah right now, but I've never known anyone who's viewed "porn" to go off the deep end like Steven and Josh Powell.

    It's obvious that the sexual fixations came first, and the porn fulfilled the need. There's been no accusations that either Steven or Josh sexually abused and/or raped anyone due to porn.
    In fact, it may have been a safety valve for the Powells and hopefully, kept their urges at bay.