A former Wichita public schools math teacher charged with sexually touching a seventh-grade student groomed and abused the girl during and after school and on at least one field trip, according to an arrest affidavit released earlier this year by a Sedgwick County judge.
Christin N. Covel and the girl also swapped nearly 10,000 messages over Snapchat, including some that discussed the teacher’s abuse fantasies, police investigating the case found.
Covel, 31, is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child under 14 and one count of unlawful sexual relations in connection with the alleged assaults, which reportedly occurred when the girl was 13 and a student at Mead Middle School. Covel had worked as a math teacher at the school before moving on to one in Tulsa. Authorities arrested Covel in Tulsa in January and extradited her to Wichita to face criminal charges after the girl spoke of the abuse in a recent therapy session, the affidavit says.
Covel’s lawyer did not immediately return phone and email messages seeking comment on Monday.
In the session where the allegations surfaced, the girl told a Wichita police Detective Chris Zandler that her teacher — Covel — viewed their involvement as a “lover type relationship,” the affidavit says.
The girl described Covel as “touchy” and said she would send her messages over Snapchat “about them doing inappropriate things,” according to the document.
The girl disclosed that the conversations and in-person interactions, which included inappropriate touching, continued throughout most of her seventh-grade year, when she was 13. She was 16 when she disclosed the abuse this past fall.
The girl told authorities when Covel wanted to see her more often; in December 2018, she started helping clean the teacher’s classroom, the affidavit says.
Shortly before Christmas that year, another teacher walked in on them while some of the illegal touching was happening, the girl told authorities.
The abuse continued and Covel reportedly became more physically bold after Christmas break, according to the affidavit.
In April 2019, during a field trip to a college campus, Covel sat beside the girl and tried to fondle her on the bus ride, the affidavit says the girl told authorities. But the girl scooted away so Covel couldn’t reach her.
Covel first connected with the girl on the social media chatting application Snapcat during the summer of 2018, as the girl was preparing to enter the seventh grade. Another detective who analyzed the girl’s cellphone found at least 9,969 Snapchat messages exchanged with Covel, including ones where the teacher talked of cuddling with the girl during a movie and apologized for abusing her, according to the affidavit.
In a May 3, 2020, message quoted in the affidavit, Covel appears to try to guilt the girl for apparently spending time with a boy, writing: “you spending time with him. Hugging him. Kissing him. Sending him stuff. Recess. Lunch. Classes. Forgetting about me. Wanting him. Not wanting me.”
Covel’s next court hearing is March 30, records show. She is currently free on bond while awaiting the resolution of her case. A Sedgwick County judge has forbidden her from having contact with any child under age 18 “without an authorized, responsible adult present,” according to her bond conditions.
Covel was a math teacher at Mead Middle School from 2015 until July 2020. She was employed at Thomas Edison Preparatory Middle & High School in Tulsa when she was arrested, The Eagle previously reported.