National

DA's sexting wasn't misconduct, regulators say

CHILTON, Wis. —If a Wisconsin prosecutor's constituents want him punished for sending sexually suggestive text messages to the victim in a domestic abuse case he was trying, they may have to wait until they can do it themselves — at the polls in two years.

Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz called the woman "a hot, young nymph" and tried to spark a relationship in messages that became publicly known Wednesday through a police report obtained by the Associated Press.

On Thursday, a top domestic violence expert and a legislator called on Kratz to resign, and a statewide advocacy group said his actions were unacceptable and had compromised his ability to serve.

It was the kind of criticism Kratz had been trying to avoid for nearly a year, according to e-mails obtained by the AP through Wisconsin's open records law. In e-mail exchanges with Wisconsin Department of Justice officials, Kratz repeatedly played down the nature of texts, calling them "a series of respectful messages," as he sought to keep them from the public, his peers and state regulators.

The Republican prosecutor in rural eastern Wisconsin doesn't face re-election until 2012, and appears likely to escape formal punishment. State legal regulators have already found that his actions did not technically amount to misconduct.

The state crime victims' rights board, which Kratz chaired until state officials learned of the texts, isn't investigating. And Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, who has the power to seek to remove district attorneys for cause, has been mum on the case.

On Wednesday, Kratz, 50, acknowledged sending 30 text messages to the 26-year-old woman while he was the prosecutor on her case last October. He asked in one whether she's "the kind of girl that likes secret contact with an older married elected DA."

After three days of what she called sexual harassment, Stephanie Van Groll reported the messages to police last year. She said she felt pressure to start a relationship with Kratz and worried that if she didn't he would drop the charges against her ex-boyfriend or retaliate against her in another way.

  Comments