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Child abuse claims made in custody fight

  |   Jan. 31, 2012 at 3:06 PM
TACOMA, Wash., Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The family of a man whose wife disappeared from their Utah home in 2009 charges the couple's sons are being abused by their maternal grandparents.

The "4thekidzz" Web site created by Josh Powell's brother also accuses police in West Valley, Utah, of mishandling the investigation into Susan Powell's disappearance, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The site was launched this week, days before a court hearing on custody of the two Powell boys.

When he reported his wife, Susan, missing, Josh Powell told police he had taken his sons, now 5 and 7, on a mid-winter camping trip and found her gone when he returned. Police are investigating the case as a homicide.

Josh Powell later moved back to his father's home in Puyallup, Wash. His sons were removed from the home after his father, Steve Powell, was charged with secretly photographing women and girls.

"Recently, my nephews have been subjected to multiple instances of severe endangerment and physical abuse by the Coxes," Alina Powell, one of Josh Powell's sisters, said in a statement. "Child Protective Services has condoned the Coxes' abuse and endangerment of my nephews, and certain members of CPS are trying their best to smooth it over and cover it up."

Another sister, Jennifer Graves, has broken with her family.

A lawyer for the grandparents, Chuck and Judy Cox, says they are providing a "safe and loving home." A hearing on custody is scheduled Wednesday.

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