Man Pleads Not Guilty To Eight Sex-Related Felonies
DANBURY - A 22-year-old man has pleaded not guilty in Danbury Superior Court to eight sex-related felonies, which police allege that he committed in connection with his work at a Newtown theater group.
On April 8 in Courtroom 2, Judge Susan Reynolds entered into the court record eight pro forma pleas of not guilty on behalf of Matthew A. Madden, 22, of New York City at the request of the state prosecutor. Also, Judge Reynolds continued Mr Madden's case to May 3. Mr Madden is free on $100,000 bail.
The prosecutor apparently had discussed the case earlier that morning with Mr Madden's defense attorney Christian Young.
Neither Mr Madden nor Mr Young was present in the courtroom when the case was called at about noon.
Mr Madden had met with Mr Young in the courtroom's lobby at about 9:30 am and they conferred, before Mr Madden left the courthouse.
Mr Madden's first court appearance in the case initially had been scheduled for April 5, but was later postponed to April 8.
Asked for comment on the court case on April 13, Mr Young responded, "I would just ask that the community refrain from the temptation to rush to judgment of the young man. According to the rules guiding our practice of law, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further at this time."
On March 17, Newtown police arrested Mr Madden, who had been working at a local theater group, charging him with eight sex-related felonies for allegedly pursuing, and in some cases having, sexual contact with underage females who were receiving theater training.
Police charged Mr Madden with two counts of second-degree sexual assault, three counts of risk of injury or impairing the morals of a minor, and three counts of enticing a minor by computer contact. According to court records, those crimes allegedly occurred in 2015, 2014, and 2011.
Police have provided a New York City address for Mr Madden, but information provided in an arrest warrant affidavit on the case indicates he also has had a Newtown address.
A complainant reported to police in November 2015 that Mr Madden, who police said worked as a theater coach/director at Sabrina's Encore Productions, LLC, at 316 South Main Street (Route 25), had contacted the complainant through social media on the Internet and had engaged in an inappropriate conversation, police have said.
Officer Liam Seabrook "began an investigation into an alleged inappropriate relationship between a juvenile and an older man," police have said.
Police said that through their investigation, they identified "several more victims" involving incidents dating back to 2011. Police allege that Mr Madden had initiated conversations with the victims, using his position at the theater group to do so.
"The subsequent investigation revealed that Madden had a pattern of contacting young females through social media, and convincing these young females to meet him in secret," according to police. "Madden would then attempt to engage in sexual contact with these juvenile girls and make them promise not to tell anyone. On several occasions, the juveniles did allegedly engage in consensual sexual acts," police have said.
Through a search-and-seizure warrant, police obtained from Facebook a digital 9,788-page electronic document containing Mr Madden's Facebook account history, according to Officer Seabrook's redacted arrest warrant affidavit.
Police said that by comparing digital information pertaining to multiple alleged victims, they found that Mr Madden's behavior showed a pattern in which he groomed and manipulated young girls through Facebook messages and cellphone text messaging.
"Upon reviewing the messages exchanged between Madden and [a victim], it is clear that he used his position as a production director at Sabrina's Encore Productions to initiate a sexual relationship with [the victim]," according to the affidavit.
In response to Mr Madden's arrest, Sabrina Post, the proprietor of Sabrina's Encore Productions, issued a statement on March 22.
Ms Post wrote, "Matt Madden was a student of Sabrina's Encore Productions from 2007-2011, when he left to attend college. There are no allegations of criminal behavior during this time.
"Matt Madden, at no time throughout the period of 2011-present, was an employee of Sabrina's Encore Productions LLC," she added.
"Matt Madden was allowed to assist the theatre director Sabrina Post in September , asking if there was anything he could do at the studio for a short period of time before he moved [to New York City] to audition," Ms Post added.
"Matt Madden was at no time the 'theatre director' at Sabrina's Encore Productions, LLC," according to Ms Post
After learning on November 23, 2015, of Mr Madden's digital communications with one of the studio's students, within an hour Mr Madden was terminated and asked not to return to the studio, according to Ms Post's statement.