A report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says Gov. Scott Walker and his staff covered up a shocking pattern of sexual abuse by a psychiatrist who worked for Milwaukee County when Walker was County Executive.
According to emails released by court order, Walker's deputy chief of staff at Milwaukee County tried to “keep (the situation) buried" during the 2010 gubernatorial election.
“No one cares about crazy people (anyhow)," wrote Kelly Rindfleisch, Walker's deputy chief of staff. At any rate, she joked, "crazy people" were behind Walker's 2010 Democratic rival Tom Barrett.
Dr. Karl Strelnick was accused of sexually abusing multiple patients and allowing the starvation-related death of another patient. He'd already had his license suspended for sexual abuse when the Walker administration hired him in 1991.
Multiple complaints against Strelnick between 1986 and 2010 were dismissed, and Walker’s medical examining board cleared him of wrongdoing. That allowed the psychiatrist to draw a $53,000 annual pension.
Strelnick also got a retirement payment of nearly $138,000 from the county.
It is not known whether Strelnick had any relationship to Walker or anyone connected to him.
In a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel column, investigative journalist Daniel Brice wrote:
“The psychiatrist's messy history may be familiar to Journal Sentinel readers because the paper has documented his problems over the past 30 years.
In 1987, Strelnick's medical license was suspended for two years after he admit(ted) having sex with two patients during therapy while he (was) in private practice in Madison.
One of the women alleged in a civil lawsuit that he had sex with her more than 100 times over 20 months. She won a $1.1 million judgment against Strelnick in a jury trial, though an appeals court later cut the amount by $250,000.
His license was reinstated a couple of years later (after Strelnick agreed) not to treat female patients and to undergo counseling.
In 1991, over the strenuous objections of two Democratic lawmakers, Milwaukee County hired Strelnick to work at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex.
Strelnick ran into problems at the county in late 2006 when one of his patients at the complex died from complications of starvation.”
Brice also wrote:
“Despite all this, a top Walker campaign aide said in a 2010 email that Walker's county staff should do what it could to push resolution of a legal settlement in one of these matters until after the general election.
‘Keep it buried until Nov. 2nd and then hopefully they'll settle,’ wrote Keith Gilkes, Walker's October 2010 campaign manager.
The state Medical Examining Board dismissed a complaint against Strelnick in August 2011, Walker's first year as governor.”
Read the entire column: Gov. Scott Walker criticized by Dems for not being tougher on disgraced psychiatrist