A Newport News police sergeant appeared in federal court Friday to plead not guilty to three federal sexual abuse counts — then waived his right to a bond hearing on the charges.
Sgt. Michael Covey, a K-9 officer who’s been with the Newport News police for 16 years, was arrested on a criminal complaint last week.
On Tuesday, a grand jury in U.S. District Court in Newport News indicted Covey on three felony counts of child exploitation stemming from one video created Dec. 30 and two Jan. 2.
Covey, 39, is accused of taking the graphic video clips involving himself and a girl who was asleep and clothed at the time. A FBI affidavit filed with the court last week said the videos involved a man masturbating with the sleeping child nearby.
In late February, the social media app Kik provided a tip to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about images being distributed on the app. An FBI agent later tracked down several pictures and videos on a convicted sex offender’s computer in Ohio.
As part of that investigation, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children later used the images’ metadata — including GPS data stamped into digital files at the time of creation — to link the three videos and two other pictures to a Newport News address.
The case was then sent to the Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the local FBI offices, leading to Covey’s arrest. He faces between 15 and 30 years on each count if convicted.
Covey appeared Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas Miller in U.S. District Court in Norfolk. He pleaded not guilty to the three charges, and opted for a trial by jury.
Covey also said he was waiving his right to a detention hearing, at which federal prosecutors would have had to provide a summary of the key evidence in the case and argue why he should be jailed pending trial.
Waiving that hearing means Covey must stay in custody pending trial, slated for Aug. 3. His attorney, Timothy Clancy, declined to say why Covey waived the hearing.
Miller told Covey that “if your circumstances change,” he can ask for release at a later date.
When the judge asked if Covey had any mental health issues, Clancy said his client has been diagnosed with a 70% disability for post-traumatic stress disorder. Clancy clarified later that the disability stems from Covey’s service with the Marine Corps.
The Newport News Police Department has placed Covey on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
Peter Dujardin, 757-247-4749, email@example.com