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Josh Powell claims sons' grandparents turning them against him
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Josh Powell has asked a judge to move his sons to a neutral caretaker, claiming in newly filed court documents that his missing wife's parents are turning their two sons against him and have even encouraged the boys to call him "Josh" rather than "Daddy."

He also objected to medical and counseling information the Coxes shared in their court bid to get permanent custody of the boys, describing the move as an attempt to "weaponize my children" in ways that were harmful. Powell also says the release of the information is an invasion of their privacy.

In the court papers filed Monday in Washington, Powell represents himself. Powell is the husband of missing West Valley City woman Susan Powell and was reportedly the last person to see the mother of his two sons alive. He has also been the only person of interest police have named in her disappearance two years ago this week.

State authorities took custody of Charlie, 6, and Braden, 4, on Sept. 22, the same day Steve Powell, their grandfather, was arrested on charges of voyeurism and possession of child pornography. After five days in a foster home, the boys were movedto the Coxes' home in Puyallup, Wash. A Pierce County judge approved the temporary placement on Sept. 28.

Powell said the Coxes continue to engage in a "very hostile media campaign" against him, have spread lies and are unable to keep their opinions about him to themselves.

"The Coxes are coaching my sons in ways that are clearly intended to destroy our loving relationships as a natural family unit," Powell wrote in Monday's declaration. "...By living in the Cox house, the boys are exposed to the Coxes' overwhelming attitude of hatred toward me and it is seriously traumatizing my children. There is considerable evidence that the Coxes make explicit comments to and around my sons reflecting their attitude."

Powell claims the Coxes are using his sons to pass messages to him or extract information, which is "very damaging to my sons emotionally."

He alleges the boys learned about a photo album that's the subject of a lawsuit, and that one of his sons asked for it to be returned during a visit. He also claims he learned from them that the Coxes were trying to obtain his new address, so he told the boys never to show anyone where he lives, the court papers show.

"By being with the Coxes, my sons are caught in the middle of a very hostile war of words and emotions," he wrote.

Powell said his oldest son has started to have nightmares since being placed with the Coxes. Powell claims the nightmares are "obviously stress related."

He said his sons are increasingly acting out while in the Coxes' care and are angry because they have to return to the Cox house when they'd rather come home with him.

"As their natural father, I am the most important person in my sons' lives and they are acting out because they feel attacked as the Coxes make diligent efforts to destroy our bonds with one another," he wrote.

In the Sept. 28 hearing, the judge stayed the Coxes' custody petition, saying the child welfare case initiated by the state would take precedence; all documents filed in the child welfare case are confidential.

But in mid-November, the Coxes asked the judge to take several steps to get their case moving, including appointing a guardian ad litem and sharing information from the child welfare case with them.

In a declaration filed in the Coxes case, Powell said the judge should reject all those requests and enforce the stay in that case.

"The Coxes have failed to show that I am an unfit parent and therefore have not even demonstrated the right to continue this action," Powell said. "To the contrary, CPS has found me worthy of reunification with my sons as soon as possible and they are increasing my visitation with my sons."

The Coxes, Powell said, are attempting to "derail this goal."

Courts • Allegations come as he asks judge to move boys to a neutral caretaker.
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