Zachary M. Covella, 33, of Wausau. Felony charges filed Dec. 27 include stalking, strangulation/suffocation, and two counts of second degree sexual assault with the use of force.

By Shereen Siewert

A 33-year-old registered sex offender who spent three years in prison on child pornography charges is behind bars once again, after being accused of repeatedly assaulting a former girlfriend and tracking her movements through her phone.

Zachary Covella, of Wausau, made headlines in 2013 after police found videos and images on his computer that portrayed sex acts between young boys. In February 2015, Circuit Judge LaMont Jacobson sentenced Covella to three years in prison followed by three years extended supervision. He was granted 648 days sentence credit for time served awaiting trial and was not on supervision at the time of his latest arrest.

The Wisconsin Department of Corrections Sex Offender Registry shows Covella as a lifetime registrant who had so far met his registration requirements in the program.

The new charges were filed after a friend of the alleged victim called police to request a welfare check out of concern for her safety. Police responded in the afternoon of Dec. 20 and interviewed the woman, who told investigators Covella followed her movements by tracking her phone and frequently pulled her hair, kicked her with his steel-toed boots and often hit her on her head if she didn’t answer his questions correctly, according to court documents.

The alleged victim also told police Covella showed her a knife the day before and “said I needed to listen to him or else he can easily stab me,” according to court filings. Covella is also accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting the woman, attempting to strangle her, and threatening to report the woman for kidnapping if she left him and took her daughter.

Covella appeared Dec. 27 in Marathon County Circuit Court, where he faces two counts of second degree sexual assault with the use of force, strangulation/suffocation, stalking and battery. All but the battery charges are felonies.

During an initial appearance Circuit Judge Greg Huber ordered Covella held on a $10,000 cash bond.

Covella faces more than 90 years in the Wisconsin Prison System if he is convicted on all counts, each of which include a repeat offender enhancer.

A preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 6.