The state of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Department of Justice have refused to defend former District Attorney Kenneth Kratz, who is facing a lawsuit from a woman who alleges Kratz sent her sexually suggestive text messages while he was handling her domestic abuse case.
State Justice Department spokesman William Cosh confirmed to TPM that the DOJ declined to represent Kratz, who is also under criminal investigation by the Wisconsin DOJ, which Cosh said “remains an open and ongoing investigation.”
Cosh noted that it would be up to the Governor to decide whether the state should provide a defense for Kratz, which Chief Legal Counsel Susan Crawford declined to do yesterday evening.Stephanie Van Groll, who Kratz admitted to sending sexually suggestive text messages to while he was handling her domestic abuse case, filed a civil suit against Kratz in October. One representative text said: “Are u the kind of girl that likes secret contact with an older married elected DA…the riskier the better? Or do you want to stop right now before any issues?” The suit claimed Van Groll’s constitutional rights were violated because “under Wisconsin law, witnesses have the right to be protected from harm arising out of their cooperation with law enforcement.”
In a letter to state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen provided to TPM by Cosh, Crawford argued that the state does not believe Kratz was “acting within the scope of his employment when he committed the acts which are the subject of this lawsuit,” and therefore the state is not required to provide publicly funded representation. Crawford asked Van Hollen to defend this decision.
The AP reports:
Kratz’s attorney Robert Bellin said in an e-mail that he was shocked by Doyle’s decision not to appoint an attorney.
If Kratz wasn’t acting as a governmental agent, then he couldn’t have violated the woman’s civil rights as is alleged in the lawsuit and it therefore must be dismissed, Bellin said.
Van Groll’s attorney Michael Fox was not quite so surprised: “Kratz is politically radioactive (and) the politicians are all donning their haz mat suits.”
There are reportedly four women, other than Van Groll, who have accused Kratz of behaving inappropriately during his time as DA. One claimed Kratz sent her a text that asked: “What are you going to do to please me in between the sheets?” Another woman claimed Kratz invited her on a date to an autopsy.
Full coverage of Kratz here.