BELFAST — A Newcastle man was indicted on sexual assault charges by a Waldo County Grand Jury May 19, following an investigation by Maine State Police Detective Hugh Landry.
Trey Knof, 24, is alleged to have engaged in a sexual act with a minor who had not yet reached age 16. He has been indicted for gross sexual assault and sexual abuse of a minor.
His case began Jan. 17, 2020, but was put on hold March 17, 2020, when courts closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Knof was able to make contact with the child, who was an attendee of a local residential treatment center, according to court documents. Knof was employed at the facility, though his exact role is unclear.
The abuse is alleged to have occurred twice, once on Christmas Day 2019, and again on or about Jan. 7, 2020, when Knof was initially arrested.
Knof was released on $500 secured cash bail Jan. 17, 2020, with conditions including not having contact with his victim or anyone else under age 16. He was also prohibited from having access to the internet or possessing electronic devices capable of accessing the internet.
In late May 2020 a former coworker reported Knof to authorities after he allegedly attempted to follow them on social media.
When Knof was interviewed he admitted the social media account in question was his, but denied sending the request, stating he had not been on the site since January 2020, prior to his arrest.
Knof’s father reportedly later called detectives to say that he had confronted his son about internet access and that he admitted accessing the internet. Knof was re-arrested June 3, 2020, for violating a condition of release.
Knof was re-released June 10, after reportedly admitting the infraction during a virtual hearing, with his existing pre-conviction bail order reinstated.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney William B. Entwisle.
In May, an arrest warrant was issued for Knof out of Lincoln County for 19 counts, including three counts of dissemination of sexually explicit material, 12 counts of possession of sexually explicit material, and three counts of violating conditions of release, according to an affidavit from LCSO Detective Scott Hayden.
According to a statement of probable cause, Knof was reported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children following a CyperTip report. The case was referred to an office specialist with the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit on March 11.
As part of the NCMEC directives, the group works with electronic service providers and electronic payment service providers to reduce the dissemination of child pornography images and/or videos on the internet, according to a statement of probable cause from the LCSO.
When an ESP is made aware of suspected child pornography images and/or videos, an ESP representative can view the media in question to determine whether they depict child pornography, and therefore violate the ESP use agreement with the user.
One of the videos in question was confirmed to contain child pornography and the IP address captured.
Following the completion of a grand jury subpoena, Assistant Attorney General Paul Rucha was able to receive the IP address associated with the file. The IP address being used by Knof was found to be registered to an individual who has no other involvement in the case.
Knof was discovered to be on two sets of bail conditions, including those out of Waldo County. He also had bail conditions produced in Lincoln County, which, like the Waldo County conditions, included being prohibited from having access to the internet or possessing a device capable of accessing the internet.
Deputies with the LCSO traveled to Knof’s place of residence and conducted a compliance check, as is allowed by his conditions of release. Though Knof reportedly initially told law enforcement that all he had was a flip phone, he eventually admitted having an iPhone hidden in his closet.
When the phone was recovered deputies reportedly noticed that the app where the child pornography was allegedly found was installed on the device. A smartwatch was also discovered in the closet. Both devices were seized because Trey Knof’s possession of them is a violation of the conditions of his release, according to the affidavit.
A search of the devices was completed by the MSP Computer Crimes Unit after a search warrant was approved. While searching the device it was discovered that another CyberTip had been called in that was connected with the IP address, and discovered another account had uploaded or shared three videos of sexually explicit material. Other sexually explicit material was also found on the devices seized from Knof at another time, and MSP Detective Landry reportedly told LCSO detectives that Knof may have sexually assaulted others during the time he was working at the residential treatment facility for children and adolescents.
According to a May 18 forensic report from the CCU, a search of the devices led to the discovery of “hundreds of what appear to be sexually explicit images of minors,” ranging in age from two months to 12 years. Videos were also recovered from at least one of the devices, showing the rape of a six to eight-year-old child.
Trey Knof was arrested by members of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department May 19 for dissemination of sexually explicit material, possession of sexually explicit material of minor(s) under 12, and violating conditions of release.
A warrant for Knof’s arrest was issued by Waldo County May 20, on charges of violating active bail conditions. Knof is to be held without bail pending a court appearance, according to the motion.
Knof is scheduled to appear in Waldo County Unified Criminal Court June 16, for a hearing regarding a motion to revoke bail.
*This story has been edited to clarify that the IP address being used by Trey Knof was not his own and belonged to an individual who is not otherwise involved in the case.
Erica Thoms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org