Wisconsin doctor surrenders license in Boy Scout molestation case
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, was 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 he admitted he masturbated while fondling two teenage boys in his care.
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, Scouting records show. Kowalski, identified in confidential Scouting files as an author of state child abuse laws, admitted the allegations in an interview with The Times. He continued to work with children behind closed doors until his retirement in 2001. He said he had never committed another offense after that case.
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.
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, had been sexually assaulted by the doctor in the 1970s, Wasserman said. According to the medical board’s disciplinary order released Tuesday, Kowalski admitted in 2005 to molesting one of the boys, but the boys’ 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'd 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.
— Jason Felch
Photo: Map shows locations of troops and units referenced by the Boy Scouts of America in the expulsions of thousands of men following allegations of sexual abuse. Credit: Ken Schwencke / Los Angeles Times