Everyone thinks of Midwesterners as so wholesome. Perhaps this perception is unfounded.
For example, why are Wisconsin lawyers so darn horny? First there were the Biglaw Bad Boys, accused of sexual assault. Now we’re hearing about a government lawyer — an elected district attorney, in fact — who apparently let his libido get the best of him.
Here’s the story: Calumet County District Attorney Kenneth Kratz sent a flurry of text messages to a woman, 30 texts over three days, in an effort to start up an affair with her. The woman, who described Kratz’s harassing texts as putting her through “three days of hell,” was a victim of domestic abuse. Kratz met the woman in course of prosecuting her ex-boyfriend for the violence against her.
OMG. Legal ethics FAIL.
The story, based on police reports, was broken by the AP:
The 26-year-old woman complained last year to police after receiving 30 texts from Calumet County District Attorney Kenneth Kratz in three days, according to the report obtained by The Associated Press.
“Are you the kind of girl that likes secret contact with an older married elected DA … the riskier the better?” Kratz, 50, wrote in a message to Stephanie Van Groll in October 2009. In another, he wrote: “I would not expect you to be the other woman. I would want you to be so hot and treat me so well that you’d be THE woman! R U that good?”
In communications with the AP, Kratz acknowledged sending the texts and said he was “embarrassed at this lapse of judgment.” He resigned as chairman of the Wisconsin Crime Victims Rights Board (even though it’s clear he has great affection for crime victims).
But Kratz has no plans to resign as DA. In fact, in public statements since the victim’s complaint about him came to light, Kratz has sought to minimize the importance of the texts (a la “prosecutors in my high school used to sexually harass crime victims all the time, it was no big deal”). He described the texts to the AP as “embarrassing and stupid, but not horrible.”
Well, this text sounds pretty horrible. After the victim responded to Kratz’s advances with answers like “dono” or “no,” Kratz texted her:
“I’m serious! I’m the atty. I have the $350,000 house. I have the 6-figure career. You may be the tall, young, hot nymph, but I am the prize!”
If Kratz is “the prize,” we’d like to press our luck, please.
As residents of NYC, we chuckled at Kratz bragging about having “the $350,000 house.” That amount won’t get you a decent one-bedroom here in Manhattan. But, in fairness, $350K can probably buy you a lot of house in Calumet County.
As for the “6-figure career,” the boast is literally true: Kratz earns $105,000. Again, this might not impress the ladies in D.C. or L.A. — but in Calumet County, it can probably get you the proverbial 3500-square-foot house and Lexus.
Let’s play devil’s advocate. Why is it troubling that the district attorney took such a keen interest in a crime victim? She’s an adult; she can take care of herself, right?
Domestic violence experts called Kratz’s text messages disturbing and unethical for several reasons, including the power differential between a prosecutor and a younger abuse victim.
”If what’s being alleged is true, it’s sad a prosecutor would use the same sort of power and control over a woman who has already experienced that in her personal life,” said Patti Seger, executive director of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
One of Kratz’s most famous cases as district attorney was his prosecution of a woman who glued her boyfriend’s penis to his stomach after he cheated on her. If Ken Kratz had put his own member on lockdown, perhaps he wouldn’t have gotten himself into this mess.
Wisconsin Prosecutor ‘Sexted’ Abuse Victim [Associated Press]
Ken Kratz resigns from Wisconsin Crime Victims Rights Board after sexual harassment complaint [Appleton Post Crescent]
DA Sexts Domestic Abuse Victim, Informs Her ‘I am the Prize’ [ABA Journal]