Sexting DA Avoids All Criminal Charges

Former prosecutor Kenneth Kratz won't face criminal charges for repeatedly sexting an abuse victim while prosecuting her ex-boyfriend. However, investigation into his "misconduct" did turn up some other accusations.

Initial investigations by Wisconsin's Justice Department and Office of Lawyer Regulation didn't charge Kratz with anything, but when more women came forward to accuse him of harassment, the Justice Dept. put out an open call for complaints about his conduct. According to the AP, about twelve people responded. A breakdown:

  • One woman said she had sex with Kratz, but in 1999, meaning the statute of limitations has expired.
  • Another woman also reported sex with Kratz, but Wisconsin Attorney General Tom Storm says her case has "insurmountable proof problems" — because she is mentally ill, has a criminal record, and consented to the sex.
  • A third woman says Kratz talked over the phone with investigators about a search while having dinner with her. This could constitute improper discussion of a search warrant, but the woman isn't sure that a warrant was actually mentioned.
  • Five people made misconduct claims against Kratz. One was Stephanie Van Groll, the recipient of Kratz's many inappropriate texts. Another was Maria Ruskiewicz, whom Kratz allegedly harassed when she sought his help earning a pardon. A third was a woman who said Kratz tried to start an affair with her "in exchange for help writing a victim impact statement against her husband." It's not clear from the AP's report who made the other two misconduct claims — one may have been the woman who alleges that Kratz tried to take her on a date to an autopsy. That still leaves one unaccounted for.

The above aren't enough for the Justice Dept. to file charges — says Storm, "There is no reasonable possibility that further investigation will reveal evidence establishing the elements of a criminal offense. There are no further leads to pursue and the file should be closed." Kratz's lawyer says he's now looking into whether any of the complainants lied: "We think that there were statements from individuals who came forward who were not completely truthful."

The list of "stalking acts" under Wisconsin law includes "contacting the victim by telephone repeatedly or continuously causing the victim's (or another's) telephone to ring, whether or not a conversation ensues" and "sending material by any means to the victim or to the victim's family, member of the victim's household, employer, coworker, or friend in order to obtain information about, disseminate information about, or communicate with the victim." A charge of stalking requires a "course of conduct," which means "a series of 2 or more acts carried out over time, however short or long, that show a continuity of purpose" — the conduct must also cause the victim "serious emotional distress." It's not clear why the 30 texts Kratz sent to Stephanie Van Groll didn't meet these criteria. We've requested the full case summary from the Wisconsin Justice Dept., and hope to have more information soon.

No Criminal Charges Against Sexting Prosecutor [AP]