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Jewish Community Center camp staff failed to act on a complaint that a counselor was involved in “inappropriate conduct” last summer — one year before the counselor allegedly filmed boys in a locker room.

A center spokesman said Thursday that an unspecified number of supervisors have been fired after new allegations surfaced against former camp counselor Matthew Kuppe.

“We are heartsick that this matter has occurred,” camp spokesman Michael Layne wrote in a statement Thursday.

Kuppe, 21, of West Bloomfield, appeared in federal court Thursday and was arraigned on a six-count child pornography indictment. Kuppe stood mute and is being held without bond.

If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison.

Kuppe is accused of posting on a Russian website locker room photos of naked 5-year-old campers and identifying at least one victim by his real name earlier this month.

After Kuppe was charged Aug. 13, the camp learned about earlier complaints against the counselor, who worked at the camp the last two summers, Layne said.

In summer 2014, camp supervisors learned about “inappropriate conduct” involving a counselor, Layne said, who did not identify Kuppe by name.

The information was not passed on to senior camp management.

Since learning about the earlier complaint, camp officials have alerted state licensing officials in Lansing and West Bloomfield Police, Layne added.

Kuppe made a brief appearance in federal court, dressed in an orange jailhouse jumpsuit and wearing handcuffs and ankle chains.

He spent most of the appearance staring at his parents, who sat in the courtroom gallery. Twice, he mouthed “I love you” to his parents.

The mother of a 7-year-old special-needs camper attended Kuppe’s arraignment Thursday.

The mother, who asked that her name be withheld to protect her son, said seeing Kuppe was stressful, along with being uncertain about whether her child was sexually assaulted by the counselor.

Adding to the stress: learning that the camp rehired Kuppe despite rumors that the counselor was involved in inappropriate behavior with campers last summer.

“There were reports that the camp knew about his issues last year,” the mother told reporters at federal court. “I am very concerned.”

Her son is unable to communicate whether he had inappropriate contact with Kuppe, the mother said.

“My son doesn’t know what he had for breakfast today, let alone …” the mother said, trailing off. “It’s stressful living with the unknown.”

The arraignment came amid a renewed push by Kuppe’s lawyers to have him released on bond into his parent’s custody, and as investigators try to determine if he sexually abused any children. He has been held without bond since earlier this month after U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Stafford concluded he was a danger to the community.

Kuppe’s lawyer Walter Piszczatowski has suggested the photos were “child erotica” and not child porn. He offered to have Kuppe confined at home, which was raided by investigators, without access to computers and monitored by electronic tether.

“Needless to say, both parents are now on high alert as a result of the serious nature of the charges and the dramatic entry into their home by law enforcement personnel,” Piszczatowski wrote in a court filing this week.

Kuppe allegedly took photos of three boys, all approximately 5 years old, during a camp sleepover this month. He posted photos on an unnamed website in a folder titled “Jewish Boys” and used the pictures to convince Internet users to send him more child pornography, a federal prosecutor said.

Kuppe, who cleared a criminal background check before being hired as a counselor, worked primarily with fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders.

The investigation started this month after a Homeland Security agent got a tip about photos of young boys being posted on a foreign website. A user with the name “jcclockerroom” posted numerous photos of young boys in a locker room setting.

“The photographs depicted the prepubescent boys’ genitalia,” a Homeland Security agent wrote in court records.

An undercover officer started trading emails with the user, whose email address is “jcclockerroom@gmail.com,” and asked about one of the boys in the photos.

“I only get to touch him a few times,” the user “jcclockerroom” wrote in an email, adding that he bounced the naked boy on his lap.

“I also purposely dropped something, and made him pick it up,” he added. “I have more pics, but you need to send some first. ... What would you do to these little boys (be graphic).”

The emails included graphic descriptions of sex acts involving at least one of the boys.

rsnell@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2028

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