It looks like Calumet County (WI) District Attorney Ken Kratz has outdone himself. Last year, while he was prosecuting a person for attempted strangulation, he was hitting on the victim. During a period of three days, Kenneth Kratz sent thirty text messages to the woman, explaining why she should be happy to have an affair with him.
The case was being tried in Calumet County. Shannon R Konitzer was charged with Strangulation and Suffocation for an assault on his ex‑girlfriend, Stephanie Van Groll.
Kratz was going through a third divorce at the time. He intimates the action was the result of the divorce. It was Van Groll’s misfortune that The Calumet County Prosecutor was smitten by her appearance.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice allowed Kratz to minimize his behaviors away. Only after the Associated Press was alerted to the constant text messages sent by Kratz to the victim did the buried bullying find the way to the light.
Had it been up to the local news organizations, the transgression would have been overlooked or excused. As it is, the headline of one of the articles in the Appleton, WI based Post~Crescent stated that the text messages were not sexual. But, that claim was made by Kratz rather than those who were involved in the investigation of his behaviors. The author of that article, John Lee, was truly enamored with Kratz during the prosecution of Seven Avery and Brendan Dassey. Lee was unable to note the fabrications and machinations of police and prosecution in those cases.
Ken Kratz has always been a glory hound. The television news and newspapers in Northeast Wisconsin have enabled his grandiosity rather than question it. Even judges allowed his grandstanding.
In March, 2006, Kratz held a press conference that was televised during the afternoon. During this PR event, Kratz detailed a series of gruesome actions that Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey allegedly perpetrated upon Theresa Halbach. That speech was based upon statements that had yet to be corroborated. The statements were coerced and crafted by Investigator Mark Wiegert of Calumet County and Wisconsin Special Investigator, Tom Fassbender. Brendan Dassey was a sixteen‑year‑old special education student who was targeted by police and prosecution because he was an alibi witness for Avery.
In 2002, Kratz, along with his helper Calumet County Sheriff Jerry Pagel, enjoyed giving press conferences about the Great Hilbert Sex Ring. These two speculated on the probability of ever widening circles of lurid sexual activities. This was a case where a sixteen‑year‑old female apparently engaged in video or photo sex with her seventeen‑year‑old boyfriend. The girl’s father reported the incident. Kratz felt obligated to find a patriarch and targeted the father of the boy. Kratz was lenient with the stepmother of the boy. Kratz moved her to another county. When the woman was subsequently found with another juvenile male involved in the case, Kratz was still lenient although she violated court no contact orders.
In the end, the father paid dearly for his son’s action. Kratz doctored some charges. To be fair, Kratz had help from an incredibly naive and ignorant Fond du Lac County judge; and it appears that the father had a crappy local defense attorney. The consequences and costs of this escapade were far in excess of the crime. I’m sure that Kratz and Pagel were saddened by the limited size of their sex ring.
The current misconduct began in October, 2009. Kratz decided that Van Groll, a victim in a domestic abuse case, was amenable to his charms. Kratz sent those thirty text messages that gradually increased in suggestiveness and aggressiveness. Even the early messages were showing the course the theme was to take. Kratz asked the victim why she wasn’t responding and she answered that she had a fever and hoped it wasn’t H1N1. Kratz then offered to bring her some chicken soup. The victim responded that she wasn’t hungry. Then Kratz offered to bring her a margarita since it contained fruit juice. His messages progressed from an attempt to appear bashful and bungling to offers of wealth and status. He offered her the role of concubine. He noted that while she was a nymph, but he had the power and the money. The messages fell into the genre called sexting.
Finally, the victim contacted the police in Kaukauna, WI due to her concern about the tone and number of the messages. The police referred the matter to the Wisconsin Department of Justice over concerns of conflict of interest.
A series of emails between Kratz and Kevin Potter of the Wisconsin Department of Justice show that Kratz was denying any impropriety. Potter quoted specific sections of the text messages that made those claims a lie. Potter also informed Kratz that if he did not contact the Crime Victims Board that Potter would. Kratz was the chairman of that board. Kratz finally sent a letter of resignation to the board.
Kratz since claimed that his resignation from that board was voluntary. But, either he fessed up or someone else would inform the board membership. That is not as altruistic as Kratz claimed.
Kratz also had to relinquish the prosecution of the perpetrator. The victim stated that Kratz suggested down charging the perpetrator prior to his campaign of seduction. I doubt that Kratz would have dropped his prosecutor role unless the Department of Justice pointed out the multiple problems that Kratz’s behaviors caused. Again, Kratz claims that he gave up the case on his own.
Throughout the correspondence between Kratz and the Wisconsin DOJ, clearly Kratz intended to dictate a resolution that painted him in a favorable light. In the end, Potter agreed not to pursue the case and let it die a quiet death. The membership of the Crime Victims Board remained quiet about the incident.
The now double victim filed a complaint with Office of Lawyer Regulation. She was rebuffed. Since the incidents became public other State agencies have remained quiet, including the Office of Victims Rights. Many of these same agencies applauded Kratz when he railroaded Brendan Dassey into a conviction for murder.
The present matter is not isolated as Kratz would like us to believe. Part of the problem is that Wisconsin Prosecutors have almost unlimited power to do wrong. Kratz would have gotten away yet again with his coercion and breaking of rules had not someone alerted an outside news agency. We must keep in mind that Kratz is not alone. Wisconsin rules for prosecutors encourage a disregard for fairness and honesty.
So, Kenny got caught and it looks as if something will stick. To whoever tipped off the Associated Press, I’ll give a heartfelt thanks. Now Kratz is getting the kind of attention he deserves.by Brian McCorkle
in category Prosecutor Ken Kratz Scandal