Jeff Bassett, Josh Powell’s attorney strongly refuted the latest evidence presented against him February 1, 2012. "He denies ever looking at any kiddie porn, he denies any knowledge of any of these images that have purportedly been take off of his computer."
Those images were unlocked by West Valley Police, and when presented, were enough for a doctor to order a psychosexual evaluation. Salt Lake City legal expert Greg Skordas says it's an unusual order in a custody battle. "It means that judge was concerned about something that he had done, something that he had said, or something they found at his house that led them to think he was a sexual predator."
Donald Strassberg, PhD, is a University of Utah Professor of Clinical Psychology. He says the psychosexual evaluation includes personality tests, and very specific questioning. “You are looking at their sexual histories, asking them basically about their sexual behavior growing up and their family as adolescents, and as adults."
He says psychosexual evaluations are typically restricted to those known to have committed a crime. “It’s pretty much restricted to the evaluation of men who are known, or suspected, to have committed some kind of sexual violence, child molestation, rape or some kind of sexual offense.”
The evaluation includes physical testing. “The unique aspect of the psychosexual evaluation involves trying to find what kind of stimuli, what kind of circumstances are they most sexually interested in- so while the person is being exposed to the sexual stimuli, their arousal level is being accessed."
The PPG test ordered for Josh Powell is also accompanied by a lie detector test. Josh had refused to take polygraph tests in the past. Dr. Strassberg says it’s another tool used l to get information from someone who may not want to be forthcoming. "That too is unusual in custody cases, but it's yet one other way to try to get at the truth."
Dr. Strassberg says neither of the tests is infallible but do help create a portrait of the person being evaluated. “The psychosexual evaluation is designed to try to understand someone's sexual personality what they are like as a sexual being."
Strassberg says this type of evaluation is not common, but alone, would not normally be enough to cause someone to commit a murder suicide. He says, however, that the stressors on Josh Powell, especially the possibility of losing his children, were intense.