It was a question posed on a private Facebook page that resulted in a retired Boston-area pediatrician’s being charged this week in Hingham District Court with raping two children — and sparked an investigation spanning several generations of former patients.
Was it “normal” for a doctor to insert “their fingers in her vagina during a yearly checkup?” a woman identified in a Norwell police report as Victim 2 asked the group on Oct. 4.
“The response she received from the post was overwhelming in that what happened to her was not the norm,” the report says.
But that turned out to be news to another woman, identified in the police report as Victim 1, who said that the same thing had happened to her and that she had been under the impression that it was a “normal part of a routine pediatric physical exam.”
It was then, police said, that both women realized they had been patients of Dr. Richard Kauff, who had treated children in the town of Norwell for 40 years.
By the time Kauff was arraigned Monday, 20 more women and two girls had come forward to accuse him of sexual assault, Plymouth County Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Beth Kusmin said in Hingham District Court on Monday.
The number of allegations “has been growing exponentially” since Kauff was charged on Nov. 2 with raping Victims 1 and 2, Kusmin told the judge.
“We anticipate dozens more similar charges,” Kusmin said, adding that for now Kauff is charged only with assaulting Victims 1 and 2.
Kauff “adamantly denies the charges,” his lawyer, Kelli Lea Porges, told the court. She described her client as “a lifelong member of the community.”
Kauff and his lawyer did not immediately respond to phone requests for comment.
Kauff, 68, who is charged with 12 felony counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 and four felony counts of rape of a child with force, was released on $50,000 bail.
Prosecutors say Kauff could spent the rest of his life in prison if he is convicted of the alleged crimes, which date from November 1991 to August 2004.
Victim 1 and Victim 2 had never spoken before they connected on the Facebook page identified at the arraignment as “South Shore Mamas.” But in separate interviews with police, both alleged the abuse started when they began seeing Kauff at ages 7 to 8 and continued until they left his practice around ages 18 and 19.
Both alleged that Kauff would have them change into paper gowns, lie down on an examination table and then count to three before he would insert his fingers into their vaginas.
“It’s like a rocket ship,” Kauff would say, according to the police report.
Sometimes Kauff did it while their parents were in the examination room, the women told police. But they could not see what he was doing, because his large frame blocked their view.
Kauff became “extremely upset” when detectives arrived Oct. 11 at his home in Norwell and informed him he was under investigation, the police report said.
“Dr. Kauff stated that he had practiced medicine for over forty years without a single issue,” it said.
Police said that after Kauff was charged, he agreed to stop practicing medicine. His next court appearance is Jan. 11.