NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Chief Petty Officer Scott Lee Penny, 37, is behind bars. A federal magistrate judge denied his request for bond at a Tuesday afternoon detention hearing. Federal investigators with the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) say Penny used an alias to communicate on the social media app, KIK, to a person he thought was a 13-year-old girl.
That person was actually an undercover HSI agent.
According to an affidavit filed in the case by an HSI agent, Penny used the alias “Mike Smith” and the handle “girthforu69” to engage in a month-long text chat in which he “discussed sexual acts he would like to do with the undercover agent, and explained how she would be able to engage in the sexual acts and went as far as sending adult pornography images of individuals engaged in sexual intercourse as a visual aid.”
According to the affidavit, on March 27, HSI agents issued a summons to KIK, which revealed the IP address on the “Mike Smith” account belonged to Cox Communications. Two weeks later, Cox provided information to investigators that the IP address belonged to the Penny household in Virginia Beach. Investigators say a driver’s license photo obtained by the DMV showed that Scott Lee Penny’s face matched the “selfie” images and video sent by the alias “Mike Smith.”
At his detention hearing, Penny’s attorney Scott Hallauer argued for bond, saying he has a longstanding commitment of service to the Navy. Hallauer argued Penny “deployed for our country,” exhibited “exemplary service” and that if granted bond, he has a proven record of being “able to follow orders.”
Penny enlisted in the late 90s and is currently a Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic assigned to Carrier Air Wing Early Warning Squadron VAW-120. Hallauer also said that Penny’s wife, who was in court, removed all electronics and firearms from the household, arguing that bond would be appropriate, but the magistrate judge disagreed.
In explaining his decision to deny bond, the judge said that there is at least some evidence to suggest Penny may have communicated with at least one other minor. In one text, he allegedly told the undercover agent, “Right before I started talking to you I was talking to a 14 yo, she sent a lot of pics.”
The judge also said there’s a possibility that Penny has a ”sickness” that ”needs to be accounted for.”
Penny has three minor children. His lawyer told the judge that they live with their respective mothers.
If convicted, the mandatory minimum sentence for the crime is 10 years in prison.