Boyne Lon Kowalske child porn story involves anonymous letter, accusations against Charlevoix County Sheriff

BY BENJAMIN J. GOHS AND CHRIS FAULKNOR

Serious charges, an anonymous letter, and baseless accusations are swirling around a recently settled court case in Charlevoix County.

The matter concerns a prominent local business owner and musician, often seen serenading the crowds summer Friday evenings in Boyne City, who has been charged with multiple counts relating to his possession of child pornography and sexually explicit conversations with an unspecified number of apparently underage girls.

61-year-old Lon James Kowalske of Boyne City was initially charged with three counts:

  • Charge one: child sexually abusive activity
  • Charge two: using a computer to commit a crime
  • Charge three: possession of child sexually abusive material

 

Kowalske was sentenced to 12 months in jail and 48 months of probation on charges of possessing child sexually abusive material and using a computer to commit a crime on Friday Dec. 1, in the Charlevoix County 33rd Circuit Court.

According to the prosecutor’s office, the sentences were identical and will run concurrently.

Kowalske had pleaded guilty on Sept. 29.

According to the affidavit of probable cause prepared by Michigan State Police Trooper Michael A. Kloss, Kowalske was discovered to have been in possession of child pornography and sexually explicit communications with an underage person in March of this year.

Police say Kowalske had hired a computer service company to transfer his files from an old computer to a new computer.

While performing the work, a computer technician discovered video files containing pornography involving children.

On March 11, 2017, the computer technician told two Michigan State Police officers about the files he had discovered.

Using a forensic software program, police discovered hundreds of pictures and videos on Kowalske’s computer which depicted sex acts involving females as young as 4 years old.

“More suspected child sexually abusive materials were located on the computer depicting young females ages 4 to 12,” it is stated in the affidavit.
Investigators also found, “chats on Skype between Kowalske and a number of individuals purporting to be young females.”

According to the affidavit, Kowalske agreed to be interviewed by the two troopers on the case.

“When asked if he had anything inappropriate that he should not have on his computer, Kowalske stated ‘yes.’ When asked to explain what, he said, ‘It’s possible that there may be some child porn on there’,’’ it states in the affidavit.

“When asked how much child pornography is on the computer, Kowalske replied, ‘Well, how much can you accumulate over 11 years?’”

In a strange twist on the story, the Boyne City Gazette—and several other local individuals—received, in recent weeks, an anonymous letter expressing concerns over the handling of the case.

“Interesting that Lon Kowalske was charged with having underage child pornography on the hard drive of his computer,” it states in the anonymous letter.

“Wonder why this has not been made public? Is it being hidden because the sheriff is his nephew?”

The letter further reads, “Shouldn’t the safety and well-being of young children be the first consideration in Charlevoix County? There should be a press release so citizens can be informed and protect their children.”

Although the investigation was handled by the Michigan State Police, and not the Charlevoix County Sheriff Office as alleged in the anonymous letter, the Boyne City Gazette contacted Charlevoix County Sheriff Chuck Vondra for comment.

Vondra told the Gazette he was already aware of the letter and that he had no idea who might want to make such spurious accusations.

When asked what if any role his office played in the Kowalske case, Vondra said, “I have nothing to do with this. He is not my uncle. He’s related to my wife. I had no say and I’ve not talked to any police officer in any way, shape, or form about this case—not even one time.”

Vondra added, “It was never brought to the Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Office, and I don’t know how to defend myself against something that’s not true.”

 

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