This is the story of Republican District Attorney Ken Kratz’ sexual misconduct over a domestic violence victim — involving an abuse of power and ultimately resulting today in a subsequent get out of jail free card. The setting: Wisconsin.
A young woman’s boyfriend tried to kill her by beating and strangling her. She went through the trauma of going to the hospital and the police, and dealt with the fact that the man she loved just tried to kill her (an epidemic in this country, by the way). Then she decided to move forward with the charges, because after all, this person tried to take her life and she found that egregious. At this point, hopefully we are losing those who don’t find that egregious.
She turned to the DA, a man by the name of Ken Kratz, as crime victims are supposed to. He is 50 plus years old and married, and she is an attractive 25ish young woman newly single and suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. Kratz, a Republican, was appointed Calumet County district attorney in 1992. The DA begins sexting her, claiming he is a prize and she is “tall, young, hot nymph.”
He sexted things to her like, “Are u the kind of girl that likes secret contact with an older married elected DA…the riskier the better?” Making offers to her that imply that she would sell herself to him because he is a big shot such as, “Im serious! Im 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!” And trying to entice her with offers that if she is hot enough, he might leave his wife, “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?”
He even acknowledged her inherent vulnerability and attempted to shame her with it, implying that she was refusing him because of her “low self-esteem” in texts like this one, “Hey … Miss Communication, what’s the sticking point? Your low self-esteem and you [your?] fear you can’t play in my big sandbox? Or???” The woman responded with such answers as “dono” and “no.”
He sent 30 such text messages. She complained to her local police, saying she was worried that if she spurned Kratz’s advances, he would not prosecute her ex-boyfriend. They turned it over to the Wisconsin DOJ. Kratz, who admitted to sending the sexts, tried to keep the messages secret, as revealed by emails he sent to the DOJ. The DOJ finally issued a statement that Kratz hadn’t done anything wrong.
The Office of Lawyer Regulation and the Crime Victims’ Rights Board both refused to take action after learning about the text messages. Turns out, the perpetrator is on that crime victims’ board. Kratz was, in fact, the Chairman of the state’s Crime Victims Rights Board until he resigned under pressure from the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin called for an independent investigation of how Wisconsin Atty. Gen. J.B. Van Hollen and the Department of Justice handled the case, noting that Van Hollen was up for re-election.
The Post Crescent reported:
In a conference call with reporters, Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski suggested Van Hollen, the state’s ranking Republican elected official, tried to protect Kratz.
“Why did he wait for a year for this to come out in the public?” Zielinski asked, pointing out that Kratz was an early supporter of Van Hollen when he first won election as attorney general in 2006.
The Republicans countered that they had won a felony conviction against the boyfriend and forced Kratz to resign from Crime Victims Rights Board.
So the victim sued. According to MSNBC, her suit alleged:
The lawsuit says Kratz knew that Van Groll, as an abuse victim, would be “unusually sensitive” to sexual requests from an authority figure. It also notes that, under Wisconsin law, witnesses of crimes have the right to be protected from threats and harm for cooperating with prosecutors. The suit claimed her constitutional rights to due process and equal protection were violated.
“Kratz caused (Van Groll) a high degree of humiliation, anxiety and distress and a substantial loss of her and her family’s privacy that would not have occurred but for his conduct,” according to the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Milwaukee…
Another domestic violence victim came forward saying that Kratz told that woman “he could have a dominatrix from Chicago with whom he was familiar train the victim/witness to be more submissive to his advances,” the lawsuit says.
In fact, 15 women filed similar charges.
Furthermore, Van Groll’s complaint says Kratz — by virtue of his position and training — knew domestic violence victims were particularly vulnerable to harm from unwelcome sexual advances.
Former Gov. Jim Doyle was attempting to remove Kratz from office for cause. But it’s a new world in Wisconsin. Today, Kratz found out that he won’t face charges over the sexting:
The Wisconsin State Journal reports:
A former prosecutor accused of sending racy text messages to a domestic abuse victim is not going to face criminal charges, the Wisconsin Justice Department announced Monday.
State investigators looked into allegations from more than a dozen women that former Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz committed sexual assault and misconduct in office, the department said.
“His conduct appears to fit the connotation of ‘misconduct’ and demonstrates inappropriate behavior but does not satisfy the elements required to prosecute,” wrote Assistant Attorney General Tom Storm, who led the investigation.
Kratz ultimately resigned after much push-back, but his attorney says that they are “investigating whether people lied to hurt Kratz.”
In the end, we have the boyfriend, Shannon R. Konitzer, who pleaded no contest to felony strangulation and suffocation, and was found guilty. He was sentenced to a year in jail with six months of the sentence stayed. And then we have the man who was supposed to be protecting the victim and prosecuting the attempted murder using his position to attempt to gain sexual favors from the victim. The man who tried to take her life got 6 months in jail and the man who took advantage of another man’s abuse of her resigned from his job but faces no charges. His attorneys are also busy smearing the women who made the charges publicly.
According to the most recent statistics, three women a day are murdered by an intimate partner in America, land of the “free.” Domestic violence is a tool utilized to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. It’s hard to see the prosecutor’s decision to further abuse this young woman by using his power and authority over her in an attempt to manipulate her into having sex with him as anything other than a deliberate, warlike strategy to go in for the kill while the victim was down. And he was charged with upholding the law and protecting the victim.
It’s unconscionable especially that this man, having access to her medical and police files and thus having seen the photos of the bruises around her neck, would and could still deliberately attempt to manipulate her already suffering sense of self into having sex with him. This young woman had just suffered a brutal attack perpetrated by the man who was supposed to love her. Her trust in the world was already damaged when Ken Kratz took advantage of her. Somehow Kratz came away from all of this feeling sorry for himself, feeling wronged by women who wanted to “hurt him.”
If we don’t hold people in positions of authority like a prosecutor to a higher standard, then we have no right to expect justice for society’s vulnerable. An authority figure who pounces on a young, vulnerable woman, assuming her personhood and body is his to toy with, knowing that she is already shattered emotionally, has no place holding an office of public trust and it’s a shame that those charged with upholding the integrity of the justice system in Wisconsin appear to be condoning his egregious behavior.
Unfortunately, stories like these go untold every day in this country.