UPDATE: Meanwhile, Back in Wisconsin: Calumet County DA Facing More Pressure to Resign After He Sexted A Domestic Abuse Victim
UPDATE (9/20/10, 4:27 p.m.) The governor’s office revealed that another woman has complained in a letter about Kratz. He inappropriately asked her out on a date to an autopsy, and requested that she wear a skirt and high heels.
I’m sure that he wasn’t channeling The Addams Family when he asked this woman to go out with him.
UPDATE (9/20/10, 11:30 a.m.): Oh, sure. Kratz retains counsel and goes on indefinite medical leave.Vodpod videos no longer available.
I’ve read of tales similar to this from anti-rape activists and support groups. The DAs and the defense attorneys get actual, visible hard-ons representing victims and abusers in rape cases or domestic abuse cases where the testimony gets graphic. Judges getting out of line pontificating from the bench about the dress or behavior of women and girls who have been raped or abused. But I’ve never read about anything like this. It’s unheard of. I swear, technology makes it all possible, and then some.
However, I think that this is not the tip of the proverbial iceberg, meaning that I don’t think that this is the first time men who are prosecutors and DAs have done something like this, even to actually sleeping with the abuse victims. I mean, divorce attorneys have been known for getting emotionally and physically involved with the women they are representing, even though it is considered unethical and wrong in some states. It’s behavior that would result in disciplinary action and/or even loss of licenses. It’s behavior that has probably been on the quiet for a while until this guy from a rural section of the Midwest got all the national and international attention he never wanted.
Thirty. Three-oh. Thirty sexting messages sent over three days from the Calumet County District Attorney, Kenneth Kratz, 50, to a woman, Stephanie Van Groll, 26, whose boyfriend was being prosecuted by him for abusing her. The bruises and scars are still healing on her face from this photo. (The sexting excerpts are here.) And he’s coming onto her? Even when she is noncommittal…and scared? It’s another form of abuse. Van Groll went from being nearly throttled to death by her boyfriend, to being sexually importuned by the man who was supposed to represent her side and to protect her rights.
And then Kratz tried to keep her from blowing the lid clean off about his misbehavior? The sheer number of messages alone would constitute cell phone and sexual harassment just on general principle. Legal experts say he should have resigned as soon as the news hit the airwaves. Nope. They’re going to have to pry his fat, Republican, “I’m gonna seek therapy” ass out of office. If he drags up the fact that he and his wife are divorcing in order to get a pity party started, people oughta get their pitchforks out. The harassment happened before he and Mrs. Kratz parted. He’s not up for reelection until 2012, but he’s essentially committed professional suicide. From CBS Crimesider:
Van Groll told police in her hometown of Kaukauna, Wis. that she felt pressured to have a relationship with Kratz and feared if she did not do so he would drop charges against her ex-boyfriend.
Kratz was prosecuting Van Groll’s ex-boyfriend on charges that he nearly choked her to death last year, but said he “immediately removed himself” form the prosecution after learning about the complaint. The state Department of Justice eventually took over the case, said Kratz.
“Nothing really happened to him and I had three days of hell,” said Van Groll in a phone interview with the AP. “They gave him a slap on the wrist and told him not to do it again. If it was anybody else that did something like this, they’d lose their job.“
The Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation is also on the griddle for giving Kratz that slap on the wrist. Executive Director Keith Sellen refused to discuss the Kratz case with reporters, “saying Wisconsin Supreme Court rules prohibit him from talking about cases in which the agency doesn’t seek public discipline.” He’s not releasing the OLR’s confidential report either, but insists that the state agency found that Kratz violated no rules.
Why was the investigation so secret? Why didn’t the complaint immediately amount to public reprimand? Here is a possible reason why: there are e-mails that show how Kratz tried to quietly negotiate himself out of trouble and still keep his posts. He didn’t deserve to step down or receive even a reprimand? One set of justice for some, and another set of justice for others? Privileged others? What does that say about his competence and effectiveness to prosecute lawbreakers?
The e-mails show Kratz at first resisted resigning as chairman of the Wisconsin Crime Victims’ Rights Board, which he had helped create and led since 1998, or reporting his conduct to the Office of Lawyer Regulation.
[DoJ administrator Kevin] Potter told Kratz that Justice officials had concluded his ability to serve as chairman of the board, which has the power to reprimand public officials who mistreat crime victims, had been compromised.
If he did not step down, Potter said Justice officials would be obligated to share details of the case with the Wisconsin District Attorneys’ Association. Kratz was the association’s designee on the board.
“As I’m sure you can appreciate, this could be potentially embarrassing for the (association) if it became public that its member on the Board had acted in a manner inconsistent with the Board’s mission,” Potter wrote.
Kratz complained he was being treated unfairly after 25 years as a prosecutor and having helped the department in the past. “Remind me again how my ‘play nice with DOJ attitude’ helped me?” he wrote in one message.
What a whiner.
Naturally, along with Governor Doyle, the Wisconsin District Attorney Association, and a growing number of politicians and other agencies, many domestic abuse activists want Kratz’s head. They feel particularly betrayed because for twenty years, Kratz has been in the forefront advocating for domestic abuse victims and prosecuting abusers. I’m sure they and many other advocacy groups in the field are wondering whether Van Groll was the only one, and are angered at him for putting them and their efforts in a bind.
The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which works with organizations around the state that help victims, said Kratz abused his power and this situation could make victims afraid to come forward.
“He’s the one who should have known better. The victim, on the other hand, is in a position of vulnerability on so many levels and again it was completely reasonable for her to think that she had to reciprocate in some way if her abuser was going to be brought to justice,” said Tony Gibart, of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Domestic abuse victim advocates said this case is particularly troublesome because prosecutors have an obligation to ensure victims feel safe and can trust them, especially because many are hesitant to even come forward.
“If there is at all a suggestion or belief that they’re not going to be treated with respect, that their case is not going to be taken seriously, then it absolutely does have that impact to silence them,” Gibart said.
These guys, like Kratz, talk the talk about law-and-order, and yet when they slip, they want to skip, or they think that what they have done wasn’t so bad or that they deserve a second chance. Then what the hell are they doing in the first place? What the hell do they think their job is? This is what happens when big Ken allows little Ken one minute to dictate his overall behavior. I mean, how many hookers are there in Wisconsin? How many women are there over the age of 21 who are willing to have a one-night stand? How many shrinks are there in Cheeseland? As Olympia Dukakis’ character Rose Castorini warned in the movie Moonstruck, don’t sh*t where you eat.