Feast your eyes on 'The Prize.'

Thanks to the internet, your memory is probably getting worse. But surely you remember our recent Lawyer of the Day honoree, District Attorney Kenneth Kratz of Calumet County, Wisconsin.

A domestic violence victim who turned to Kratz’s office for help claims that the DA sexually harassed her via numerous text messages, trying to convince her to have an affair with him. One of his texts read, in pertinent part, “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!”

(Someone should put that on a t-shirt: “You may be hot, but I am the prize!”)

Alas, the recipient of Kratz’s “I am the prize” text may not be the only woman he harassed. Two other women have come forward with allegations against the district attorney — and one of them claims Kratz has some weird ideas about what constitutes a fun date….

One woman who went out on a date with Ken Kratz makes the following claim:

[A] woman complained to Gov. Jim Doyle’s office last week that Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz invited her to a woman’s autopsy after they went to dinner “provided I act as his girlfriend and would wear high heels and a skirt.” The governor blasted Kratz’s behavior on Monday as an “unimaginable” abuse of power if true.

Well, give Kratz credit for originality: taking a date to an autopsy is a heck of lot less clichéd than a moonlit walk on the beach.

(Through his attorney, Bob Craanen, Kratz denies inviting the woman for a nightcap at the medical examiner’s. Kratz claims that he did get called about an autopsy while they were at dinner, but denies inviting his date to join him.)

The autopsy date allegation strikes us as more strange than troubling. We can’t say the same for the claims of a third woman complaining about Ken Kratz, also reported by the AP:

A law student said Tuesday that a Wisconsin prosecutor under fire for sending racy text messages to a domestic abuse victim also sent her similar texts in 2008 after agreeing to help her seek a pardon for a decade-old drug conviction.

Maria Ruskiewicz said she believes Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz wanted sexual favors in return for supporting her pardon. She said she met Kratz in his office in 2008, and afterward, the Oklahoma City University law student said Kratz sent her text messages that soon turned harassing, including one that asked how she would please him in bed.

Trading pardons for pleasuring? Bill Clinton should have tried that. To paraphrase Kissinger, (pardon) power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

With the support of Ken Kratz, Ruskiewicz did get her pardon from Governor Jim Doyle. And now that she has been pardoned — she maintained silence for a time, fearing Kratz could create problems for her pardon request — Ruskiewicz is speaking out. As she told the AP, “The reason why I’m coming forward is he abuses his power, not only with women, but with women in certain situations who are extremely vulnerable to his authority.”

This is how things got started, according to Ruskiewicz:

Ruskiewicz said she went to Kratz in 2008 asking for his support for her pardon application and career advice before she entered law school. She said Kratz agreed to support her and they met in his office, where he asked her an odd question about whether a boss could have a sexual relationship with a secretary.

An affair with the secretary? That’s a bit… obvious. How about a more challenging hypothetical. For example, can a supervising attorney have a sexual relationship with an automated litigation support specialist?

[Kratz] gave her his cell phone number, and [Ruskiewicz] texted him later to thank him for the help — a move she now calls a mistake.

She said his messages soon turned sexual. She recalled him texting while he was on vacation in Michigan with his family asking how she would “please him between the sheets while he takes a nap.”

But was it really “a mistake” to receive sexy texts from the DA? Save those messages, Maria; you never know when they might come in handy. Ken Kratz has hiring authority. And you go to the Oklahoma City University of Law.

Despite the growing allegations against him, Kratz plans to stay put. He’s currently on “medical leave,” of indefinite length, but he has rejected calls for his resignation.

And why should he step down, depriving the good people of Calumet County of the benefit of his services? Don’t forget: he is the prize!

Wisconsin DA harassed woman seeking pardon [Associated Press via ABA Journal]
Wisconsin DA denies asking woman on date to an autopsy [Associated Press]

Earlier: Lawyer of the Day: The Sexting District Attorney – ‘You may be hot… but I am the prize!’


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