Prosecutors: Counselor ‘likely’ had sexual contact with campers

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published September 4, 2015

 Matthew Kuppe

Matthew Kuppe


Federal prosecutors say it is “extremely likely” that a former camp counselor “engaged in some form of sexual contact with campers.”

The statement came after the attorney for the former Jewish Community Center for Metropolitan Detroit camp counselor requested he be released into his parents’ custody.

In the response, which was filed Sept. 3, U.S. Assistant Attorney Sara Woodward argued that 21-year-old Matthew Kuppe should not be released on bond. She said that “it is also extremely likely that the victims of defendant’s sexual abuse may not come forward or be identified.”

The brief states that Kuppe took 16 sexually explicit photographs of three young boys, which he used “as currency” by posting the photographs online to receive additional child pornography. Kuppe was indicted on three counts of production of child pornography, one count of distribution of child pornography, one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. He is currently being held pending trial.

Woodward provided additional details about the case in her response, including that Kuppe — in addition to photographing three naked prepubescent boys — took pictures of clothed male campers in the summer of 2014, according to prosecutors. Although he was assigned to work with 10- to-12-year-old campers, Kuppe reportedly volunteered to help with 5- to 7-year-olds.

Kuppe’s electronic devices, including an iPhone and an iPod, were seized in a search. The iPhone reportedly did not contain any photographs or any child pornography; however, about 60 child pornographic pictures that were downloaded from the Internet were found through a forensic examination on the iPod. Some photos were downloaded in 2012, Woodward states in the response.

Officers also obtained a federal search warrant for an AOL email account, which contained pictures of the boys in the sent mailbox.

“On Aug. 5 and Aug. 6, 2015, defendant emailed the pictures to himself, presumably so that he could delete them from his phone yet maintain copies of the images for personal use. The metadata contained on the photographs of the victims indicates that the pictures were taken with defendant's iPhone,” Woodward wrote.

Google has not yet responded to a search warrant obtained for the Gmail account with which an undercover officer reportedly exchanged emails about the photographs. 

Coworkers reported that they noticed Kuppe behaved “inappropriately around boy campers” while he was working as a camp counselor during the summers of 2014 and 2015, Woodward said. In a letter submitted to Kuppe’s supervisors July 29, 2014, a worker described Kuppe as “overly touchy.”

After Kuppe was arrested Aug. 12, 2015, multiple co-workers told police that Kuppe would take boys to the bathroom alone, despite being advised against it.

“One counselor said that during the sleepover on Aug. 6, 2015, defendant told her he had to help the third- and fourth-graders change and disappeared for 20 minutes,” Woodward states in her response. “This counselor also said that she observed defendant sitting with 5-year-old boys during the movie at the sleepover, and that she saw defendant leave the movie on three separate occasions to take boys to the bathroom.”

Woodward argued that based on evidence, Kuppe is dangerous and should not be released into his parents’ custody, especially because he expressed sexual interest in young boys through both the child pornography collected and the emails he sent to an undercover officer in Australia.

“He surrounded himself with boys that matched his sexual desires, and he took numerous pictures of boy campers that he saved by emailing to himself,” Woodward states.

In addition, Kuppe reportedly lives near an elementary school, which Woodward said Kuppe “need only look out his window to see unsuspecting children that match his sexual preference.”

Defense attorney Walter Piszczatowski filed the motion for Kuppe’s release Aug. 25, and in that motion, Kuppe’s parents agreed to ensure Kuppe would not have access to the Internet. However, Woodward said that because his parents run a business out of their house, and they did not agree to remove the Internet-capable devices, Kuppe could have access to computers, smartphones and tablets.

Parents of the three young victims wrote letters to the court asking for Kuppe to remain in custody.

“The images of our son which include his name, which were sent to a Russian website known to attract pedophiles and sexual predators, cannot be retracted or erased now that they have been shared digitally. … When our son is old enough to understand this, we will have to look him in the eye and tell him that there are stolen, pornographic images of him available on the Internet,” one set of parents wrote.

Another set of parents wrote that they do not feel safe if Kuppe is released, because in addition to the photos, they “may never know if he came into physical sexual contact with our child.”

Piszczatowski could not be reached for comment.