SUBSCRIBE NOW
$5 for 3 months. Save 83%.
SUBSCRIBE NOW
$5 for 3 months. Save 83%.

W. Bloomfield child porn suspect freed pending hearing

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

A federal judge released a counselor at a Jewish day camp on bond pending his next hearing on child pornography charges, despite a conclusion by a psychologist that he is at high risk of re-offending.

Matthew Kuppe, 21, who is accused of filming prepubescent boys in a locker room in Oakland County, has been jailed since Aug. 18.

U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn ordered Tuesday that Kuppe be freed until his next hearing, saying there was no evidence the former Jewish Community Center summer camp counselor was a flight risk. Under the conditions of his release, Cohn ordered Kuppe to wear a GPS tether, agree not to view pornography, have no contact with the victims and refrain from using computers or the Internet. He also may not possess a credit card and must stay within the east side of the state.

Kuppe was charged in August with producing child pornography after investigators said he filmed prepubescent boys in a locker room and posted the photos online. The West Bloomfield man faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of three child pornography charges, including production and possession.

On Tuesday, Cohn said pretrial release is the norm in federal court in Detroit, with 70 percent of all offenders charged being released. For accused sex offenders, 50 percent of those charged are released. In both cases, less than 2 percent re-offend while on release, he said.

“Defendant ... is a person who has lived his life thus far, with the exception of the instant offense, well ‘within the lines,’” said Cohn, quoting the report. “He has no history of criminal behavior and has demonstrated a level of self-discipline.”

A statement issued by one of the parents on behalf of the victims said they were disappointed in the judge’s decision.

"While Matt Kuppe is home enjoying Thanksgiving dinner and welcoming a new year in comfort, our families are seeking the service of professional therapists to help us understand what may be going on in the boys’ heads,” the statement said. “This devastating incident has forever changed our lives and we will not know for quite some time what impact this will have on our children. Just because you can't see the damage doesn't mean it is not there."

In considering Kuppe’s release, the judge said there is strong evidence of distribution and receipt of child pornography, but ambiguity on production of child pornography.

“Here the children photographed were not engaged with other persons and the children did not know that they were being photographed. Defendant is an atypical producer, if in fact he is a producer as defined by law,” Cohn wrote.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward argued Kuppe had been evaluated by a doctor who concluded he was “at high risk of reoffending sexually” if released. She also said the victims’ parents opposed any release.

Kuppe allegedly used his cellphone to take nine sexually explicit photos of a 5-year-old boy on Aug. 5 inside the center’s locker room, prosecutors said. That night, he allegedly uploaded the photos to the Russian website, Woodward wrote.

Kuppe was placed into the custody of his parents.