Judge denies Josh Powell custody of kids

TACOMA, Wash. - A judge has ruled that the children of missing Utah mother Susan Powell must remain in the custody of her parents.

Their father, Josh Powell, had been attempting to regain custody of the boys.

The children have been living with Chuck and Judy Cox since Josh Powell's father Steven was arrested on child porn and voyeurism charges. Pierce County Superior Court Judge Kathryn J. Nelson ruled Wednesday that Josh Powell must undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation and polygraph test, noting the "extreme child porn" found in the Puyallup home where Josh was living with the two boys and his parents after Susan's disappearance.

"We're relieved. We're happy to have (the boys) with us," said Chuck Cox. "We wanted the best for the kids."

The judge made her ruling in spite of questions raised by Powell about the two boys' care, including an accident that resulted in the 5-year-old going to the hospital for a second-degree burn.

But a guardian appointed for the boys says they're doing well.

"I noted some big changes with the children," said Julio Serrano, court-appointed guardian. "The children are more bonded with the grandparents."

Susan Powell disappeared from her Utah home in December of 2009 and in spite of an intensive investigation, no signs of her have been discovered. Josh Powell is the only named person of interest in connection with her disappearance.

But in a bizarre twist, last September Steven Powell, Josh's father, was arrested for voyeurism and child pornography. Now the assistant Attorney General says Utah investigators wanted to make sure this family court saw the images they allegedly got from Josh Powell's home down there.

"He denies ever looking at any kiddie porn," said Jeff Bassett, Josh Powell's attorney. "He denies any knowledge of any of these images that have purportedly been taken off his computer."

The judge is continuing Josh Powell's twice-a-week visitation with his sons, and barring some new development, the state and the court are still planning to return the boys to Josh Powell at some time in the future.

The next hearing is scheduled for the end of July.