Legal Ethics

Former prosecutor gets 4-month suspension for sexting crime victim

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The Wisconsin Supreme Court has suspended former longtime Calumet County district attorney Ken Kratz for sexting a woman whose former boyfriend he was prosecuting for abusing her, and for lewd comments to social workers involved in other cases, the Associated Press reports.

Kratz, who has filed for bankruptcy, was also ordered to pay $23,904 for the costs of his disciplinary hearings which, the court noted in its per curiam opinion (PDF) he “employed a tooth-and-nail litigation approach.”

On the same day Kratz met in private with the victim in the case and she confided in him, among other things, that she has low self-esteem, he began texting her, saying “I wish you weren’t one of this office’s clients. You’d be a cool person to know!”

Kratz escalated quickly, texting her the following day with: “Are you the kind of girl that likes secret contact with an older married elected DA … the riskier the better?” And then the day after that with: “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! … I would want you to be so hot and treat me so well that you’d be THE woman. R U that good?”

The prosecutor of 18 years engaged in “exploitative behavior, harassing behavior, and a crass placement of his personal interests above those of his client, the State of Wisconsin,” the court wrote.

The woman went to police two days after Kratz began texting her and reported his behavior, and they, in turn, referred the case to the state Department of Justice. Ultimately the matter went to the Office of Lawyer Regulation, which found no ethical violations. But later, an Associated Press story led to Gov. Jim Doyle seeking to remove Kratz from his position and Kratz resigned in October 2010.

OLR reopened the case, which led to Friday’s suspension for Kratz. Besides the improper overtures to the victim, the court also found unethical behavior in lewd comments to two social workers, which are detailed in the opinion. Kratz eventually claimed he was addicted to sex and painkillers.

“In short, whatever his qualities and accomplishments as a lawyer, Attorney Katz proved himself during the period in question to be sanctionably sophomoric,” the court wrote.

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