PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Nearly two years after receiving complaints that a former psychologist at a prominent New England boarding school didn't do enough to help abused children, Rhode Island officials still have not decided whether to discipline him or let him continue to practice.
Two former students at St. George's School in Middletown filed complaints with the state Department of Health in December 2015 against Peter Kosseff, a psychologist there for 35 years. Some of those abused at St. George's say Kosseff failed to protect them and say they're frustrated by the slow pace of the investigation. But at least one says Kosseff was the only adult who helped him.
Both complaints were filed by women abused by athletic trainer Al Gibbs, who abused at least 31 girls at the school. One, Katie Wales Lovkay, told Kosseff about the abuse, but as far as she knows, he never reported it.
"The fact that they still have not made a decision on this two years later is absurd. This is the welfare of children," she told The Associated Press. "If he had told authorities, or had believed me ... the whole outcome could have been different."
The other woman has asked to speak to the Board of Psychology on Thursday to press them to revoke his license.
"I don't know why it's taken two years," she said.
The AP typically doesn't name people who have been sexually abused unless they come forward publicly, as Lovkay has.
Joseph Wendelken, a spokesman for the Health Department, said in an email it is the department's longstanding policy not to comment on complaints or investigations.
"Generally, cases take longer to adjudicate when they are more complicated and involve more witnesses, particularly when those cases are related to incidents that allegedly occurred decades ago," he wrote.
Kosseff declined to comment on the complaints but said he acted ethically during his years as a part-time psychologist at St. George's from 1979 to 2014. He currently practices in South Kingstown and Newport.
"I certainly have cooperated with the board fully and supplied them with everything that they've requested," he said. "I'm going to await the board's review."
An independent report released in September 2016 found dozens of children were abused by staffers and fellow students from the 1970s to as recently as the early 2000s. The report found that Kosseff took action in some instances, such as helping fire a choirmaster in 1988 for inappropriate sexual contact with a student. But no one at the school ever notified authorities, and the choirmaster went to work at another school.
One of the women who filed a complaint said she believes "you can't just assist one child. You can't just send this predator out. ... I don't think there's a lot of gray area here as to whether or not he conducted himself ethically."
At other times, students came to Kosseff with reports about misconduct and he didn't move quickly to stop it, the investigation found.
Felicia Johnson, a 1985 graduate, who is black, was stepping out of the shower her freshman year when a group of girls attacked her, using a vacuum cleaner and writing racist words on her body with permanent black marker.
"I had been violated, I was held down, felt like I was being raped, and written all over," Johnson said.
The headmaster sent her to Kosseff as a condition of remaining at the school. She said Koseff then repeatedly violated her confidentiality during the following years.
"I know full well that he would go right back to the headmaster and tell him anything I said, because the headmaster would turn around and tell me," she said.
She called him a "minion" of the administration, and wants his license stripped.
"He violated some of the oaths that he took as a doctor," she said.
But one of the people abused by the choirmaster, who asked that his name not be used, said Kosseff took quick action when he learned of the abuse, and moved to get the choirmaster fired. Kosseff, he said, helped him when other adults at the school and his parents did not.
"Peter Kosseff intervened in an extremely urgent, timely fashion as other boys were being groomed," he said.