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Secret Boy Scout files reveal hidden Wisconsin abuse cases

Steve Chamraz

Secret Boy Scout files reveal hidden Wisconsin abuse cases

CREATED Oct. 18, 2012 - UPDATED: Oct. 18, 2012

MILWAUKEE- Among the 15,000 pages of secret documents released Thursday by the Boy Scouts of America, two Wisconsin cases illustrate the vastly different ways Boy Scout leaders handled claims of abuse.
Boy Scout officials fought the release of these so-called "pervision files" for years, but conceded defeat after an Oregon attorney won a ruling in his state's Supreme Court.

The files name 1,247 scout leaders who were kicked out of scouting for a variety of moral disqualifications, 92 of them from Wisconsin.

Two Milwaukee-area cases handled by the same scout executive in the late 1980s reveal the glaring inconsistencies in how the Boy Scouts handled child molesters in their midst.

Dr. Thomas Kowalski

Thomas Kowalski was the definition of a big-shot.  A prominent Milwaukee pediatrician, Kowalski wrote many Wisconsin laws on child abuse.

But according to documents kept secret by the Boy Scouts for decades, Kowalski was also a child molester.

Documents show Dr. Kowalski was removed from scouting in 1987 after "fondling the genitals of two junior staff members."
Though memos written by Milwaukee-area scout leadership say the doctor confessed, they kept his secret for 25 years.  Documents show in Dr. Kowalski's case, scout leadership was very concerned with publicity.
One memo in Kowalski's file reads, in part, "so far, we have not had any media attention."  Another expresses relief that a newspaper publisher on the scouting board "will not be passing on the information to his editors."
Gerald Kummer
Though his case was uncovered under the same scouting leadership, the case of Gerald Kummer was handled quite differently.

In 1989, Kummer was kicked out of scouting after a complaint he was supplying young boys with alcohol and molesting them.
Kummer was turned over to police, prosecuted, and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Unlike the concern for media attention displayed in the Kowalski case, Kummer's name played across the pages of newspapers for months.