By Shereen Siewert
A 34-year-old registered sex offender who spent three years in prison was arraigned Monday, after accusations surfaced he repeatedly assaulted a former girlfriend and tracked 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 in December, 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 faces two counts of second degree sexual assault with the use of force, strangulation/suffocation, stalking, battery and three count s of having contact after a domestic abuse arrest.
During his arraignment hearing Covella pleaded not guilty to all charges. His defense attorney is asking for a speedy trial.
Covella has been held since his December initial appearance on a $10,000 cash bond, an amount set by Circuit Judge Greg Huber. His attorney petitioned in July for a bond reduction, but Circuit Judge Mike Moran did not grant the request.
A final pretrial conference is set for Oct. 20.
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.