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Powell children will stay with Cox family for several weeks

By Pat Reavy | Posted - Sep. 28, 2011 at 10:38 p.m.


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TACOMA, Wash. — A judge granted temporary custody of Josh and Susan Powell's two children Wednesday to the parents of the missing Utah woman.

Judge Kathryn Nelson agreed to allow the two boys to remain with their maternal grandparents, Chuck and Judy Cox, at least for several weeks. Another court hearing in the matter was scheduled for Nov. 15.

Details of the custody ruling

Josh Powell will be allowed to have three hours of supervised visitation with his boys, ages 4 and 6, on Sundays.

The Coxes fought for custody of their grandchildren, arguing that they believe their son-in-law is responsible for the disappearance of their daughter. Prosecutors also argued on Tuesday that Josh Powell is a subject in a voyeurism and pornography investigation.

The judge said the children could not be safely returned to their home with their father.


John Long said Josh's mentally disabled brother has answered the door in the nude in the past and is often nude inside the home.

Josh Powell unsuccessfully argued that if his boys could not be with him, they should remain in foster care rather than live with the parents of his wife, Susan Cox Powell, who has been missing for almost two years.

He even offered to "provide the cost of transportation" of taking his older son to school if the judge allowed him to remain in foster care.

"I was expecting to bring my sons home. I had no reason to believe they would not come back with me," he said.

John Long, who is representing the Washington state Children's Administration, made additional arguments Wednesday about why the children should not be living in the home with Josh and Steven Powell. He said Josh's mentally disabled brother has answered the door in the nude in the past and is often nude inside the home.

Long also told the judge that Josh Powell has admitted that he takes photos of people's legs in public without their knowledge.

Powell, still 
wearing his wedding band, spent most of his time 
staring 
straight ahead, avoiding eye contact with anyone 
else in 
the courtroom and not talking to anyone.
Powell, still wearing his wedding band, spent most of his time staring straight ahead, avoiding eye contact with anyone else in the courtroom and not talking to anyone. (Photo: Pat Reavy)

But Josh Powell denied both allegations. "My brother is a decent, modest person," he said.

Powell also argued there was no reason for anyone to believe his sons would be at risk in his home. "My sons are safe, they have everything they need. They have all of their needs met."

Powell again denied having anything to do with his wife's disappearance two years ago.

"I did not kill my wife. I love my wife. I know my wife loves my children. I want my wife back as much as anyone else," he said.

Josh Powell agreed to undergo a psychological evaluation in order to try and get his sons back. He requested that he be allowed as much unsupervised time with his children as possible, but asked that his sons not be allowed to attend LDS Church services.

The judge, however, ordered supervised visits — three hours on Sundays. In addition, the boys will get immediate counseling.

The judge also ruled that both parties involved in the dispute will not speak poorly of the other in the presence of the children while also doing their best to protect them from their ongoing legal issues and the investigation into their mother's disappearance.

Josh Powell's sister relieved at ruling

Washington state Children's Administration officials late Tuesday sent the children to stay with their maternal grandparents overnight. Jennifer Graves, Josh Powell's sister who is estranged from her family, said it was nice to see her nephews again.

"It took them just five minutes to warm up to us," she said.

She, along with the Cox family, believes Josh Powell had something to do with Susan's disappearance.

"In my heart, I'm quite convinced Josh is responsible for her disappearance," Graves said after Wednesday's hearing.


In my heart, I'm quite convinced Josh is responsible for her disappearance.

–Jennifer Graves, Josh Powell's sister


Graves, wearing purple — the color the Cox family has used to show support for their daughter since she went missing — said she and her husband came to Tacoma from Utah to support Chuck and Judy Cox.

"I believe that the boys will be in a better place if they're not with Josh at this time," she said outside the courtroom prior to the hearing.

She, along with the Cox family, believes Josh Powell had something to do with Susan's disappearance.

"In my heart, I'm quite convinced Josh is responsible for her disappearance," Graves said after Wednesday's hearing.

The two Powell boys spent the night reading stories and playing games. The boys also asked about their cousins, Graves' children, and why they weren't there.

Graves said the family does not talk about the situation with Steven Powell or the disappearance of their mother with the children. When asked whether the children mentioned their father, she said she thought they had "mentioned something once."

Jennifer Graves, the estranged sister of Josh Powell, who is the husband of missing Utah woman Susan Powell, talks to reporters during a break in a court hearing regarding the custody of Josh Powell's two sons, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011, in Tacoma, Wash. The boys are currently with the parents of Susan Powell, but Josh Powell, is asking for custody to be returned to him. (Photo: Ted S. Warren, Associated Press)
Jennifer Graves, the estranged sister of Josh Powell, who is the husband of missing Utah woman Susan Powell, talks to reporters during a break in a court hearing regarding the custody of Josh Powell's two sons, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011, in Tacoma, Wash. The boys are currently with the parents of Susan Powell, but Josh Powell, is asking for custody to be returned to him. (Photo: Ted S. Warren, Associated Press)

The boys had been living with Josh Powell and his father, Steven, in Puyallup, but the children were taken out of the home last week after Steven was arrested on charges of voyeurism and possessing child pornography. Long told a judge Tuesday that Josh Powell is also a subject in that investigation — prompting Josh to quickly deny any such activity.

"I have had nothing to do with any kind of illegal pornography," he said.

When asked whether she thought Josh Powell was involved in his father's pornography case, Graves said she didn't know. But she believes he did have something to do with Susan's disappearance.

"I'm sad about the situation and that it's come to this," she said.

As for her father and the charges of voyeurism and possession of child porn, Graves said she has known for a long time that her father had a porn addiction, which is why she had moved to Utah to distance herself from him. The extent of his addiction, however, she said was "appalling" and "shocking."

Graves said she believed there was a good chance the Coxes would get custody of the children. She said she and her husband would be working with Chuck and Judy Cox in taking care of the children, which could mean they would travel back to Utah once in a while.

-----

Written by Pat Reavy with contributions from Jed Boal.

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