High court suspends Kratz’s license for four months

Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz gives his rebuttal argument in the trial of Steven Avery, Thursday, March 15, 2007 at the Calumet County Courthouse in Chilton.
Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz gives his rebuttal argument in the trial of Steven Avery, Thursday, March 15, 2007 at the Calumet County Courthouse in Chilton. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, Pool)

The Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended the law license of former Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz for four months, it announced Friday.

Kratz was serving as Calumet County’s district attorney in 2010 when he tried to spark a relationship with a 25-year-old woman through a barrage of racy text messages in 2009 while he was prosecuting her ex-boyfriend for domestic abuse. More women then came forward and accused him of making sexual comments to them.

Kratz ultimately resigned and later filed for bankruptcy. He currently practices law in West Bend.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Kratz said, “I once again apologize for the embarrassment and dishonor I have caused my family, the Calumet County District Attorney’s Office, and the legal profession as a whole.”

In its decision, the justices called Kratz’s actions “boorish” and “appalling.”

“Attorney Kratz’s conduct toward S.V.G. was appalling. Through a series of wheedling text messages, Attorney Kratz attempted to convince S.V.G., a domestic abuse crime victim and witness, to enter into a sexual relationship with him while he was prosecuting the perpetrator of the domestic crime. S.V.G. felt leveraged by Attorney Kratz’s sexual entreaties; she feared that if she failed to respond to him, he might take action in her domestic abuse case that could potentially adversely affect her. This was exploitative behavior, harassing behavior, and a crass placement of his personal interests above those of his client, the State of Wisconsin,” the court wrote.

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

Kratz says he offered in 2011 to accept a six-month license suspension. However, the state Office of Lawyer Regulation declined, forcing the matter into court. The OLR recommended the state Supreme Court suspend Kratz’s law license for six months. A referee handling the case recommended a four-month suspension. Kratz argued he’s suffered enough and he deserves to keep his license.

In Friday’s statement, though, Kratz said:

“Surprisingly, the disclosure of my unhealthy lifestyle and disrespectful past behaviors has turned out to be the single best thing that has ever happened to me. Despite having lost my 25-year prosecution career, my wife, my house, my life-savings and my reputation, the opportunity I have been given to change my life, and recover from my addictive past, has been remarkable.

“Helping clients and other attorneys who suffer with addiction every day has been the most rewarding part of my 4-year recovery journey, and I look forward to sharing my story of loss, accountability, recovery, and redemption with whoever cares to listen.

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