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Indiana County victim: Follow Westmoreland judge's order, castrate man who raped her repeatedly

| Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Samuel Powell of Bell Township. Serving a 20- to 40-year sentence for sexually abusing a a child.

A woman whose sexual molester might be paroled from prison after more than two decades says he should be chemically castrated.

The victim of Samuel Powell, who is now 32 years old, said on Monday she wants him to undergo the medical procedure ordered in 1990 by now-retired Westmoreland County Judge Gilfert Mihalich in a sentence that drew national attention.

The Indiana County woman spoke Monday outside the same courtroom where Powell, formerly of Bell Township, was sentenced 23 years ago.

During that hearing, Mihalich ordered that Powell not be paroled until he underwent chemical castration.

“I still feel that he should be castrated. There is no doubt in my mind. It's all about control. If he's getting out (of prison), it should be considered,” the woman said.

Powell, now 66 and bald, with a gray beard that reaches his sternum, was in court Monday for a hearing before Judge John Blahovec to determine whether he is eligible for parole.

The state Department of Corrections has deemed Powell eligible, saying a court order signed by Mihalich lists a series of sentences that add up to 20 to 40 years in prison.

At the original hearing, however, Mihalich said he imposed a 30- to 60-year sentence.

Blahovec said he will rule later on the actual length of Powell's sentence.

Powell, a drifter who fathered eight children to four wives, pleaded guilty in late 1989 to 23 counts of rape and other charges associated with repeated assaults on the victim from the time she was in kindergarten until she was 9 years old.

According to court records and published accounts, Powell forced the girl into sexual relations and bestiality, and made her pose nude for photographs. The girl had to undergo surgery to fix damage Powell inflicted with his 9-inch-long fingernails.

The sentencing order signed by Mihalich calls for the castration.

“Because the defendant had three prior sexually related convictions, the court recommends that no furlough or parole be granted without first surgically castrating the defendant and the implementation of any other medically acceptable surgical or medical treatment which will eliminate or minimize the defendant's sexual urges or stimulations,” Mihalich wrote.

Assistant District Attorney Barbara Jollie did not mention the castration order during Monday's hearing.

She said Mihalich's intention, based on his own words at the sentencing hearing, was for Powell to serve up to 60 years in prison.

Mihalich, who has been retired for nearly 20 years, gained national attention for his stance on the Powell case, even appearing on “Larry King Live” on CNN in 1992 to defend his castration order.

Powell's victim said she would support him serving less time in prison if he consents to be castrated.

“But I shouldn't have to deal with this for another couple of years,” she said.

The Tribune-Review does not identify the victims of sex crimes.

Jollie said the castration issue has not been a consideration, as prosecutors contend Powell will not be eligible for parole for another eight years.

Debra Rush, attorney for the state corrections department, contends Powell is eligible for parole because his sentence can be calculated only from information in a written court order and not a transcript of the original sentencing hearing.

“We don't know what the judge's intention was back then,” said Public Defender Wayne McGrew.

He declined to comment about the castration issue.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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