Reporter's Note: Friday evening I reported on a psychological evaluation of Josh Powell that was released by Washington authorities. The four page report was the basis for the family court judge ordering an additional and more detailed psycho-sexual evaluation. Just days after that court hearing in Tacoma, Josh set an inferno that killed himself and his two boys.
In the report, the psychologist talked about cartoon images found on Josh Powell's computer that depicted sex acts -- including incest. A viewer emailed me this comment after that story aired:
"Mr Hunsaker, at this point, what was the reasoning for reporting on the images found on Powell's computer? What was the point of sharing that information, especially at this point? What were you trying to trying to prove? He was unstable? That was obvious when he made the horrible choice to blow up his house with himself and his two boys in it, I didn't see the point of your piece. It was sensationalistic, in bad taste and you are continuing to tear off the band-aid on a wound many people need to start healing. What the images were would have had no bearing on where Susan may be and that's the only issue left now. Your piece was in poor taste, very 'seedy,' and left a bad taste in my mouth."
Julie, here's my response:
"The point" is actually a question: Could the deaths of Charlie and Braden Powell have been prevented?
In my mind, that question remains unanswered. Part of the process of finding an answer is looking at the documents now being released by authorities.
If those documents show, as you say, that Josh Powell was obviously "unstable", then I want to know why was he allowed to have visitation with the boys in his rented house? How come the visitations didn't continue at a neutral site where there was security?
What's more, when were those images discovered on Josh Powell's computer? Were they from a computer confiscated by West Valley police during the initial searches in December of 2009, or more recently in the September 2011 raid on Steven Powell's house in Puyallup, Washington?
The "when" is important. It will help answer the question of why the boys were allowed to stay with their father up to a year and a half after their mother had disappeared under suspicious circumstances.
- Someone may need to be held accountable for the deaths of the Powell children -- beyond Josh.
Changes may be needed in how investigations are conducted and how information is shared with various agencies.
- We may need to redouble our efforts to protect children.
We need answers. The documents coming out are key to getting those answers.
As for my story, it was not as detailed as other stories appearing in other media outlets. I specifically said in my introduction that I was not going to go into the details of what the cartoon images depicted. I was personally uncomfortable with some of the quotes pulled from the psychologist's report and decided not to use them. Had I wanted only to be "sensational," I would have left them in and added a few more for good measure.
I felt I could raise the questions without the "sensational" specifics.
In other words, I tried hard to avoid the very criticism that you have now leveled at me.
If you are just upset that we even mentioned the report, then I am sorry, but I stand by the story for the reasons I have stated.
If you are upset by the few specifics I did include, I am also sorry. Please believe me, I tried very hard to do it without offending.
I hope you may find some comfort in knowing the Cox family apparently believes as I do. Their attorneys are now exploring a lawsuit over the deaths of their two grandsons.
They want answers too.