Charges for past offender in Fun Tan robbery

By: Ryan Famuliner Email
By: Ryan Famuliner Email

After a scary situation at a South Bend tanning salon, some are wondering why Christopher Powell, a man sentenced to more than 50 years in prison in 1990, was out on the streets.

The St. Joseph county prosecutor's office released robbery and criminal confinement charges today against Christopher Powell, who they believe broke into the Fun Tan on State Road 23 late Saturday night, and held two young women against their will.

And according to court documents WNDU obtained from the county court, Powell has a troubled past with strikingly similar crimes to the one he's accused of now.

The court files started in 1986, when Powell pled guilty to attempted rape and criminal confinement.

He was given three years of probation, for the incident involving a woman he handcuffed to her own car, and held against her will.

In 1989, a 12 year old girl was raped numerous times in South Bend.

Powell also pled guilty to that, violating his probation.

The charges from those two incidents landed Powell with a sentence of nearly 60 years in jail.

Attorneys tried to get Powell’s sentence modified numerous times in the 1990's, but failed.

In 2004, his sentence was reduced to 24 years, with 8 years work release.

Then, in 2006, it was reduced again to 16 years - and he was ordered to be released to the custody of the Ducomb Center in South Bend to serve his work release.

Both of those sentence reductions came from the court under Judge William Albright.

Following that ruling, there was a flurry of communication between county corrections, judges, and health providers about what to do with Powell - along with questions about bed space at Ducomb.

An attorney even asked for Powell's placement to be revoked.

After that, health providers showed major concern as recently as this April, pointing out that Powell had scored very high on a test that indicated he may be prone to violence again.

St. Joseph County Judge Roland Chamblee ruled Powell's placement at Ducomb should stand, once there was an open bed space.

But now, with charges filed in the incident at Fun Tan Saturday night, Powell faces even more trouble with the court system.

And he's currently in the St. Joseph county jail.

Court documents say Powell was found to be AWOL and not following his treatment plan at Ducomb Center, and it appears somehow, he slipped through the cracks.

The prosecutor's office says they can't make any comment on the previous charges against Powell, because of the current charges against him.

Powell is charged with 2 counts of Robbery with a deadly weapon, and 2 counts of criminal confinement. All are Class B felonies.

Police say when they found Powell, he was carrying a backpack containing duct tape, condoms, Vaseline, and a "sexual energy drink." However, there have been no reports the two young women at Fun Tan were sexually assaulted.

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