story from last week. I think Josh Powell knew it was just about over for him, and decided to take his kids out with him.
Exam will unveil Josh Powell’s sexual history, preferences
By Melinda Rogers
The Salt Lake Tribune
First published Feb 04 2012 08:01AM
Updated Feb 5, 2012 12:03AM
Josh Powell last week suffered a setback in his quest to regain custody of his two children from his in-laws, Chuck and Judy Cox.
A Washington state judge ruled the husband of missing West Valley City woman Susan Cox Powell must undergo a psychosexual evaluation by a court-appointed examiner in light of explicit images found on a computer taken from the Powells’ West Valley City home during a 2009 police search.
Pierce County Superior Court Judge Kathryn J. Nelson ruled Charlie, 7, and Braden, 5, should remain with their maternal grandparents until at least the end of July. But what is a psychosexual evaluation and how could its results shape Josh Powell’s future?
“It’s kind of like a sexual profile of the individual. It’s a risk-assessment tool,” explained Mary Fan, a law professor at the University of Washington. “In Washington state, you see it in a number of decision points in the court process.”
While more commonly used in criminal proceedings where judges must assess how likely a defendant is to reoffend or determine housing and treatment, the evaluations can also be ordered in civil matters.
In Washington, licensed evaluators may examine police reports, child protective services information, criminal correctional history, interviews with the client and his family, and other data. At a minimum, they must address a description of the allegations against a person; a person’s sexual history and preferences; previous attempts to remediate problem behavior; and risk factors that may lead them to repeat problem behavior.
Risk factors can include a person’s stress level, alcohol and drug use, mood, sexual patterns, use of pornography, social and environmental influences, medical history, relationships, employment, education and family history.
Besides undergoing a paper-and-pencil evaluation, Josh Powell may possibly be subjected to a penile plethysmograph — which measures the bloodflow to a penis. The plethysmograph is administered with a strain gauge, which measures an erection response while a person is shown slides and tapes of normal sexual behavior as well as deviant acts.
In the U.S., 58 percent of psychosexual evaluation programs include administering a penile plethysmograph, according to a 2009 survey from the Vermont-based Safer Society titled “Current Practices and Emerging Trends in Sexual Abuser Management.” In Washington, penile plethysmographs are a standard part of an evaluation, but not required, said Rebecca Roe, a Seattle attorney whose expertise includes personal injury cases for victims of violent crime and sexual assault.
“It certainly would be in the norm for people to use it. It would be a tool in the toolbox,” said Roe.
A polygraph is also part of the psychosexual evaluation in order to determine that a person is being truthful about his or her experiences.
In Josh Powell’s case, he may be questioned about the images found on his computer in West Valley City as well as child pornography police say they found on the computer of his father, Steve. Evaluators can ask questions about other topics to determine whether Josh Powell is fit to care for his children, and that may include his relationship with his wife.
“It may be some providers ask about sexual events in the individual’s life — may ask about use of pornography. Some evaluations may involve questions about potential victims in other cases that have gone unreported,” Fan said.
A psychologist who recently evaluated Josh Powell as part of the custody case has recommended the psychosexual evaluation because of the images found at the West Valley City home, which a prosecutor declined to comment on other than saying the images are “not something you would soon forget.” Josh Powell’s attorney, Jeff Bassett, has questioned the necessity of the evaluation and said his client denies looking at “kiddie porn.” On Friday, Bassett told The Salt Lake Tribune psycho-sexual evaluations are controversial because of how they are conducted.