Steven Powell Sentenced to 2 1/2 Years in Jail for Peeping at Neighborhood Girls

Powell was found guilty of taking photos of neighborhood girls in the bathroom.

ByABC News
June 15, 2012, 2:26 PM

June 15, 2012 — -- Steven Powell, the father-in-law of a missing Utah woman, Susan Powell, was sentenced today to 2 1/2 years in prison for taking inappropriate photos of two neighbor girls using the bathroom and showering.

In May, a Pierce County, Wash., jury found Powell guilty of all 14 counts of voyeurism after only six-and-a-half hours of deliberations. Two of those counts were later dismissed.

Powell, 62, faced up to five years in prison for each of the 14 counts.

Prosecutors were asking Judge Ronald Culpepper to sentence Powell to 10 years in jail, and the mother of the two girls, in a quavering voice, asked the judge to give Powell the harshest possible sentence.

"You sit there smugly as if it's perfectly normal to commit these crimes," she said, according to ABC News affiliate KOMO. "I'm so angry. I'm angry for the hurt you caused my children. They did nothing to you but you've stolen their sense of security."

Powell's defense was asking for a sentence of zero to 12 months in jail, noting that the pictures could have been taken before the state ranked voyeurism a felony in 2006. It also argued that, though the pictures were inappropriate, Powell never left his home or interacted with the girls.

Powell was arrested in November 2011 after Utah police searched the home he shared with his son, Josh Powell, and grandchildren, as part of the investigation into the disappearance of Josh Powell's wife, Susan Cox Powell.

Josh Powell was the only named person of interest in the investigation, sparking a two-year war of the words between Josh Powell and his father, Steven Powell, and Susan Cox Powell's parents and the police that investigated the case.

Steven and Josh Powell publicly threatened to post Susan Powell's girlhood diaries to a website, sparking the police raid on the house in September 2011 to obtain the diaries. The search yielded dozens of computer disks that contained images of women and young girls that focused on their private parts, according to prosecutors.

Following Steven Powell's arrest, Josh Powell lost custody of his two sons and later killed the boys and himself in a fiery explosion at his home during a supervised visit.

During the trial, the jury saw images of two neighborhood girls, aged 8 and 10, that Powell was alleged to have taken from his bedroom window, which faced the bathroom of the girls' home in back of his home. They were also shown pictures of Powell engaged in sexual activity, and read a journal entry in which Powell disclosed his interest in taking pictures of women.

Powell wrote that he enjoyed "taking video shots of pretty girls in shorts and skirts of every age," but enjoyed images of Susan Powell the most.

Images of Susan Powell were also found on Steven Powell's computer disks, but they were not admitted into evidence because the charges focused on the invasion of privacy of the two neighborhood girls.

Investigators working on the Susan Powell case asked to talk to Steven Powell about the case following Josh Powell's death, but he has denied those requests.

Alina Powell, Steven Powell's daughter, was saddened by the verdict.

"My family was automatically convicted two and a half years ago; since then, I have lost a sister-in-law, a sister, a brother, two darling nephews, and a great Dad, to an immeasurably complicated situation that even I don't fully understand," she wrote in a statement to ABC News.