In reality, Powell was chatting with Abington Police Officer Leroy Risell, working undercover in an America Online chat room called "Fam Taboo."
Powell was arrested Feb. 4, 2004, in an Internet sting when he arrived at a prearranged meeting outside a department store at the Willow Grove Mall. He was charged with attempted statutory sexual assault, attempted involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, corruption of minors, and unlawful communication.
He testified yesterday that a vibrator that police found in his Dodge Durango truck had been there for three weeks and that he had planned to use it with his wife.
Powell had been married less than four months before his arrest, he said.
Male-enhancement pills police found in Powell's truck had been there for months and were not purchased for a sexual encounter, Powell testified.
"Did you believe that the person was 13?" asked Jack McMahon, Powell's attorney.
"Absolutely not," Powell said.
Powell admitted that he checked the profile of the person using the name "Amanda" and saw that she was 13 and from the Willow Grove area.
However, when the graphic sex chats began, Amanda seemed to have knowledge beyond her years, which raised suspicion, Powell said.
Powell testified that he drove to the meeting to see whether it was an older woman. A videotape of the arrest played by prosecutors shows police swooping in on Powell as he arrived.
Montgomery County Detective Ray Kuter testified that he saw Powell wave to a decoy officer, a small-framed, blond woman in her 20s. Powell said he tried to leave but police stopped him.
Police questioned Powell after his arrest, and he told them he was conducting his own undercover investigation of a pedophile, according to court testimony. Yesterday, Powell changed his story.
"I panicked," Powell said, as his father and mother sat in the courtroom. "I didn't know what to say. I was newly married; I had a long career as a police officer. I would have said anything to save my marriage and my job."
The trial continues today.
Contact staff writer Keith Herbert at 610-313-8007 or email@example.com.