By MARK FREEMAN
A Rogue River man was sentenced Monday to 25 years in federal prison for taking two girls to a Northern California beach house, sexually abusing them and secretly recording them naked over a weekend in March 2012.
Robert Powell, 50, who previously served five years in a military prison for a previous sex offense, pleaded guilty this time to federal charges of transportation with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity with a minor and using a minor to produce a visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct.
During the sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Medford, Senior U.S. District Judge Owen Panner also ordered Powell to remain on supervised probation for the remainder of his life.
Prosecutors said Powell used his friendship with a woman to get permission in March 2012 to take her daughters, ages 15 and 13, to Brookings purportedly to sell merchandise at a local fair. Instead, he took them to a rented beach house in Smith River, Calif., prosecutors said.
While there, Powell gave the girls alcohol, got them drunk and sexually abused both girls while also filming them, prosecutors said. He then told the girls to lie to their mother about where they had been.
He was indicted June 29, 2012, by a federal grand jury on various offenses regarding sexual assault of minors. He pleaded guilty Jan. 22 to the charges for which he was sentenced Monday.
In 1994, while in the U.S. Army at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., Powell was convicted of assault with the intent to commit rape and for verbal threats to kill, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Powell served five years in a military prison before receiving a general court-martial.
The 2012 case was investigated by the FBI, Grants Pass Department of Public Safety and the Southern Oregon High-Tech Crimes Task Force as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in 2006 to combat what federal prosecutors called a growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.