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Doctor who admitted molesting Scouts gives up medical license

Thomas Kowalski was investigated by the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board after The Times reported the Boy Scouts expelled him after he admitted molesting two boys.

October 30, 2012|By Jason Felch, Los Angeles Times
  • A file created by the Boy Scouts of America in 1987 details what scouting officials in Milwaukee reported regarding allegations that Dr. Thomas Kowalski "made sexual advances" toward teen boys at a camp.
A file created by the Boy Scouts of America in 1987 details what scouting…

A prominent Wisconsin pediatrician who admitted molesting two boys while serving as a Boy Scout camp doctor in the 1980s voluntarily gave up his medical license Tuesday after additional complaints of abuse surfaced.

Thomas Kowalski, 75, became the target of an investigation by the state's Medical Examining Board after The Times reported in September that he had been expelled from the Boy Scouts in 1987 after admitting to molesting two scouts.

The parents declined to press charges, and Scouting officials used their connections with the publisher of a Milwaukee paper to keep the story out of the press, confidential Scouting records show.

DATABASE: Search the "perversion files"

Kowalski, identified in Scouting records as an author of the state's child abuse law, admitted the allegations in an interview with The Times but said he had never committed another offense. He continued to work with children behind closed doors until his retirement in 2001.

Sheldon Wasserman, chairman of the state medical board, said the panel approved Kowalski's surrender of his medical license in an emergency session Tuesday.

"I don't know if other states have done anything after the release of these files, but I thought what I read was so dramatic that we had to do something," he said.

FULL COVERAGE: Inside the "perversion files"

After The Times wrote about Kowalski, the story was covered by local media and two people contacted Wasserman with additional information about Kowalski, Wasserman said.

One father reported a separate incident in which two of his sons, who were patients of Kowalski, were allegedly sexually assaulted by the doctor in the 1970s, Wasserman said. According to the medical board's disciplinary order released Tuesday, Kowalski admitted to the parents in 2005 to molesting one of the boys, but the parents didn't report the incidents because the doctor told them he was no longer permitted to treat children.

A former employee of Kowalski also contacted the medical board to say she had witnessed suspicious behavior by Kowalski going back to the 1970s, Wasserman said. In particular, the former employee said Kowalski had routinely scheduled extra-long appointments with boys in the afternoons, while girls received normal appointments in the mornings.

The new allegations will be turned over to law enforcement officials for a potential criminal investigation, Wasserman said, adding that the medical board had no record of prior complaints against Kowalski.

Kowalski and his attorney did not return several calls seeking comment Tuesday. When interviewed by The Times in September, he said he had reformed and had seen a psychiatrist for years, adding "Had [the allegations] ... been publicized, I would have been out of business, reputation destroyed, and I don't know how I would have faced people at church."

Kowalski's file was among nearly 1,900 reviewed by The Times in an investigation of sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts of America. In hundreds of cases, the files contained allegations of abuse that were never reported to police or reported on by the media, The Times found.

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