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Some charges dropped for Delco fire chief charged with sex crimes

Some charges dropped for Folcroft fire chief charged with multiple sex crimes
Some charges dropped for Folcroft fire chief charged with multiple sex crimes 03:22

FOLCROFT, Pa. (CBS) -- A suspended Delaware County deputy fire chief charged with multiple sex crimes appeared in front of a judge Thursday. Matthew Bateman is accused of sexually assaulting a minor inside the Folcroft Fire Company firehouse.

At first, Bateman was surprised to see CBS Philadelphia cameras outside the magistrate's office in Upper Providence. He kept quiet when asked about the accusations that have kept him behind bars since his arrest on Dec. 30.

CBS3 Investigations first broke word of this alleged firehouse sex assault investigation in early December, when we confirmed Bateman and another high-ranking fire official were suddenly suspended.

Bateman is accused of sexually assaulting a junior firefighter under the age of 16 inside the Folcroft Fire Company on a number of occasions.

Over the objections of CBS Philadelphia, the courtroom was closed when the accused took the stand. That lasted a half hour.

The public was allowed back in as attorneys made closing arguments.

Bateman's public defender argued prosecutors failed to establish evidence for some of the charges and pointed out that the charges of institutional sexual assault were not appropriate because a firehouse isn't included in the language of the law -- that for now applies to school and church settings.

The judge agreed with that and tossed that count and charges of indecent assault by forcible compulsion.

An assistant district attorney concluded her case, telling the judge this man was supposed to be a role model. Instead, he put the community at risk.

An attorney for the accuser and his family spoke with CBS Philadelphia following the hearing.

"This wouldn't of occurred through leadership of the fire department if there was properly policies, procedures and oversight by Folcroft Borough to allow someone, especially leadership, to repeatedly sexually abuse a young boy, a volunteer," attorney Bob Lynch said. "A volunteer that we should be applauding, appreciating and thanking for stepping up -- the volunteer. And yet, to have someone abuse their power and authority, as the judge said and commit these heinous acts is reprehensible." 

The prosecutor and Bateman's public defender had no comment after the hearing.

On a separate matter, the judge agreed to lower Bateman's bail, even though he agreed his once-held position of authority made him dangerous.

Bateman can post 10% of $750,000 for his release.

CBS Philadelphia confirmed the investigation of other personnel inside the Folcroft Fire Company continues.

Law enforcement sources said that includes leaders, who may have known about this alleged behavior and never reported it.

Bateman had nothing to say about the case against him. His next stop is the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas. 

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