CHILTON, Wis. — A U.S. prosecutor who sent sexually suggestive text messages to a domestic abuse victim downplayed the seriousness of their content and urged state officials to keep them from the public, his peers and state regulators, emails show.
The texts sent by Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz could have jeopardized the prosecution of the victim’s ex-boyfriend on charges he nearly choked her to death, a state Department of Justice official told Kratz last year.
Kratz, 50, on Wednesday 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.” In others he called her “a hot, young nymph” and tried to spark a relationship.
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 or worried he would drop the charges against her ex-boyfriend or retaliate against her in another way.
The complaint was referred to the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Email exchanges between Justice officials and Kratz, obtained by the AP through the open records law, show Kratz repeatedly downplayed the nature of the messages and sought to keep them from the public.
Kratz said they were “a series of respectful messages” that were not sexual at all.
Kevin Potter, administrator of DOJ’s division of legal services, rejected the claim and said they could be construed as sexual harassment.