Former Oklahoma probation officer under investigation on allegations of sexual misconduct

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Former Oklahoma Department of Corrections probation and parole officer and current Bartlesville police officer Steven Powers. Courtesy/LINKEDIN.

Federal investigators are looking into allegations that a former Oklahoma Department of Corrections probation and parole officer who is now a Bartlesville police officer made multiple sexual propositions and sent lewd text messages to co-workers and several women who were on probation and under his supervision, according to documents obtained by The Frontier.

Steven Powers, 34, of Broken Arrow, has not been charged or arrested in the investigation.

An FBI spokeswoman said FBI policy prohibits confirming or denying the existence of an investigation and declined to comment.

Reached Tuesday afternoon by The Frontier, Powers also declined to comment.

Bartlesville Police Captain Jay Hastings told The Frontier that Powers was placed on administrative leave late last week after the department learned of the investigation by the FBI and DOC and has since opened its own internal affairs investigation.

“He’s been an employee here for about 10 or 11 months,” Hastings said. “As of this last Friday, he was put on paid administrative leave.”

The Bartlesville Police Department said it has not had any complaints or indications of inappropriate behavior by Powers during his time at the department, other than the current FBI and DOC investigation, and the police department was not alerted about allegations against Powers for alleged activity while a probation and parole officer until last week, Hastings said.

A federal search warrant and warrant application obtained by The Frontier shows that Powers’ cell phone was seized and searched last week by the FBI, with DOC investigators also present during the search. In their application to search Powers’ phone, federal investigators said there was probable cause to believe Powers may have violated a federal law against the “deprivation of rights under color of law.”

Powers worked as a probation and parole officer for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections from February 2015 until August 2017, when he left to become a police officer for the Bartlesville Police Department, according to court records.

Bartlesville Police Chief Thomas Holland and Officer Steve Powers after Powers was sworn in as a Bartlesville police officer. Courtesy/FACEBOOK

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections opened an investigation into Powers’ alleged activities in late October 2017, after he had left the department, when a female probation and parole officer told authorities she had received inappropriate text and instant messages from Powers while he was still at DOC as well as after he became a police officer, court documents state.

The messages from Powers, according to court records, commented on the female probation and parole officers appearance and requested that she send pictures to him. However, the female probation and parole officer told authorities she was also concerned after learning Powers had sent messages and provided his personal cell phone number to a female probationer who was under his supervision, court documents state.

Investigators with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections interviewed one of Powers’ former probationers who was under his supervision from late 2016 to spring 2017 who told them that she had received multiple text messages from Powers telling her she was sexy, asking for dates and asking whether she was interested in him, court records allege.

The woman said Powers would immediately text her after she left her probation meeting, asking if she could stay and talk, and that he would try to meet her in the parking lot of the Broken Arrow probation and parole office, investigators said. Powers allegedly texted the woman more than 100 times on his work cell phone and another cell phone, according to court records.

A second woman who was under Powers’ supervision for nearly two years between 2015 and 2017 also told investigators she had received inappropriate messages from Powers and was “weirded out” by the communications, investigators said. The woman said she “tried to let Officer Powers down as easy as possible as he was her probation officer, and she did not want to get in trouble with him,” court records state.

The alleged victim told investigators that Powers had repeatedly requested to meet with her and that Powers “was straight forward and repetitive in his requests, even after she said no,” court records, and that Powers had given her money a few times.

On one occasion, the woman had arrived at the Broken Arrow probation and parole office for her parole meeting and found Powers in his office sitting in a chair with his penis out, court records state. He had attempted to guide her hand to his penis, but the alleged victim said she “freaked out” because he had left the door open and there were people in the area, according to investigators.

In another instance, Powers had met the woman in the parking lot of her employer, given her $20 or $40 and requested oral sex, which she performed on Powers, investigators said.

A fourth alleged victim, this one another female probation and parole officer who worked with Powers for two months before he was transferred to the Broken Arrow office, told investigators that Powers had sent her pictures of his penis and had often texted her requesting pictures and intercourse, according to the affidavit.

A fifth alleged victim, also a female on probation under Powers’ supervision, said she received multiple sexual propositions from Powers, but did not report it to authorities because “she was on probation and was concerned with how the situation could possibly impact her probation,” court records state. That woman also said she thought Powers may have followed her and her boyfriend home one day in his personal vehicle, the affidavit states.

She also told investigators that Powers had texted her one night stating that his wife and children were asleep and asking her to come over to his house, court documents state. The woman said she could not because of her electronic monitoring device, but Powers said he could disable it before sending her a picture of his penis, investigators said.

Investigators said the woman told them that, prior to one of her probation visits, Powers sent her a text message with a picture of a person wearing Department of Corrections uniform holding their erect penis with a caption to the effect of “Hey, it’s almost time for your appointment, I’ll get to see you,” court records state.

A sixth alleged victim told investigators that she had about four office visits with Powers before he began to ask her very personal questions, and that he once texted her about 20 times in one day asking her to send him a picture, the court documents say. Powers also allegedly attempted to kiss the woman while she was at his office, investigators said.

During that woman’s last meeting with Powers, court records allege, he had requested they meet at a park down the street from his office, and when the woman arrived, he entered her vehicle, unzipped his pants, pulled his penis out and asked her if she wanted to touch it. She declined, investigators said, but absconded from supervision after that meeting.

Court records show that federal investigators hoped to search all texts, emails, contacts, messages, call logs, pictures and other information on Powers’ cell phone. A judge issued the warrant last week, and records show the phone was seized from Powers the following day.

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Clifton Adcock

Senior Staff Writer

A veteran investigative reporter who has covered eastern Oklahoma for more than 15 years, Clifton joined The Frontier in April 2017. A native of southeastern Oklahoma, he has covered numerous issues from criminal justice to politics for publications including the Tulsa World, the Oklahoma Gazette, and Oklahoma Watch. Clifton holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. Clifton can be reached at clifton@readfrontier.com. Follow him on Twitter @cliftonhowze
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