Man sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for sexual abuse

A federal judge handed down a 25-year sentence for a Rogue River man who admitted to befriending a Grants Pass woman with the intention of sexually abusing her two teenage daughters.

James Robert Powell, 50, pleaded guilty to transporting a minor across state lines for sexual purposes and using a minor in a visual display of sexually explicit conduct. Prosecutors had recommended the 25-year sentence that Senior U.S. District Judge Owen M. Panner imposed today. The judge also ordered that Powell be on supervised release for the rest of his life.

Prosecutors said that Powell had used his friendship with the woman, a waitress at a Grants Pass restaurant where he was a regular customer, to get her permission to take her two daughters, ages 15 and 13, to help him sell stickers and sunglasses at a festival in March 2012 in Brookings. Instead, he took the girls to a vacation house he had rented in Smith River, Calif., got them drunk, sexually abused them over a two-day period and secretly recorded them while they were naked.

He told the girls to lie to their mother about where they had been with him, but the 15-year-old abruptly ran away from home and threatened to kill herself. She ultimately told police that Powell had sexually abused her and her sister on the trip.

Powell has a prior conviction in 1994 at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas for assault with intent to commit rape and verbal threats to kill. Powell served five years in a military prison and received a general court-martial, prosecutors reported.

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