City man gets 10 years for sharing obscene material with a minor

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Virginia Beach Circuit Court Photo by Adrienne Mayfield
Virginia Beach Circuit Court
Photo by Adrienne Mayfield

A Virginia Beach man will serve a 10-year prison sentence for sharing sexual material online with someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl.

Circuit Court Judge William R. O’Brien imposed the sentence Wednesday on Michael J. Popovich, 55, according to a release from Commonwealth’s Attorney for the city of Virginia Beach Colin D. Stolle. Popovich, who previously lived on the 3100 block of Barbour Drive, was sentenced to two counts of electronic means for procuring minors for obscene material. He pleaded guilty on June 7, 2016.

Popovich originally came to the attention of the Fairfield Police Department in Connecticut during an investigation of adults participating in online sex conversations with minors, the release said.

Between Aug. 23, 2015 and Nov. 8, 2015, Popovich communicated through Wireclub, a social media application, with an adult decoy who was posing as a 13-year-old girl named “Bailey,” according to the release. Popovich shared sexually explicit photos and videos with “Bailey,” discussed sexual acts he wanted her to perform on him and sex acts he wanted to perform on her.

The Fairfield Police shared information with the Virginia Beach Police Department, which then took on the investigation. Popovich was arrested on Nov. 13, 2015 at the Norfolk International Airport, a day after a search warrant for his home was attained. He confessed to knowing that “Bailey” was 13, to sending her pornographic links, and to chatting online with other juveniles, according to the release.

Judge O’Brien sentenced Popovich to 20 years in prison, with 10 years suspended. During supervised probation, he will be barred from having unsupervised contact with minors and from using electronic devices, the release said.

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Joan Quigley is a former Miami Herald business reporter, a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and an attorney. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, TIME.com, nationalgeographic.com and Talking Points Memo. Joan Quigley is a former Miami Herald business reporter, a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and an attorney. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, TIME.com, nationalgeographic.com and Talking Points Memo. Her recent book, Just Another Southern Town: Mary Church Terrell and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Nation’s Capital, was shortlisted for the 2017 Mark Lynton History Prize. Her first book, The Day the Earth Caved In: An American Mining Tragedy, won the 2005 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.