Competency hearing ordered for Idaho man charged with blackmailing teen girl

Courtesy of the Cache County Jail

LOGAN — A preliminary hearing has been postponed for a 21-year-old Idaho man, accused of extorting nude photos and videos from a Hyrum girl. Michael B. Powell will instead undergo a mental evaluation, determining if he is competent to stand trial.

Powell was in 1st District Court Wednesday morning. His defense attorney asked for the competency hearing, to see if Powell understands and can rationally participate in the court process.

Judge Kevin Allen granted the motion. He ordered Powell to cooperate with evaluators and appear again in court February 12.

Police allege, Powell had a relationship with the 17-year-old girl that began two years ago. During that time, he convinced her to send him nude photos of herself. He then began blackmailing her for more graphic photos and videos, threatening to send the pictures to her family, if she didn’t comply. When the girl tried to end the relationship with the suspect, she began receiving messages from an unknown social media account. The user also demanded more nude photos and videos, or he would share her pictures with others.

The threats allegedly continued through social media and text messages until the victim contacted a school resource officer at Mountain Crest High School. Deputies were able to access the social media accounts and text messages. They tracked them to the defendant, who was living in Pocatello, Idaho.

Powell was arrested and transferred to the Cache County Jail. He was later charged with aggravated sexual extortion of a child, a first-degree felony, and 12 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a second-degree felony. He is being held on $100,000 bail.

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