A longtime staffer at the Everette Hodge Community Center, which puts on afterschool programs for children in Midtown Kingston, has been charged with sending indecent material over the Internet to someone he thought was a 13-year-old, Ulster County sheriff’s deputies said.
Matthew Brownlee Jr., 26, of Kingston, was arrested on December 21 by members of the URGENT task force and U.S. Department of Homeland Security agents. Since this past August, according to law enforcement officials, Homeland Security had been investigating explicit online communications between a Kingston man and a person he believed to be a 13-year-old female, but was actually an undercover Homeland Security agent. Over the course of several days in the end of August, officials allege, “several conversations took place, which included discussion regarding meeting in person for sexual conduct and the transmission of sexually explicit photographs.”
Brownlee was charged with the felony of first-degree disseminating indecent material to minors. He was arraigned in Ulster Town Court and released to appear in Kingston City Court at a later date.
According to Megan Weiss-Rowe, who both works at the Hodge Center — which is run by the city and Family of Woodstock — and is a spokeswoman for city Mayor Steve Noble, Brownlee was immediately suspended from his job “until further notice” after his arrest and a letter was sent home to parents.
“It is our understanding that these matters are unrelated to Mr. Brownlee’s work at the Hodge Center and that there is no reason to believe that any of the allegations occurred at or involved participants of the Hodge Center’s afterschool program,” the letter read. “The City of Kingston, Family of Woodstock and I are all committed to ensuring that this program continues to provide a safe and welcoming space for our children for many years to come.”