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A black mark against the legal profession as a whole has once again been placed, this time by a Wisconsin district attorney who’s used his power to gain sexual favors. Calumet County District Attorney Kenneth Kratz texted an abuse victim, who turned to his office for help, that “I am the prize”. Apparently Stephanie Van Groll has had enough “prizes” for awhile and instead of entertaining an affair with the married district attorney, instead filed a complaint with the Office of Lawyer Regulation. Turns out not enough was done from this office as the state attorney general has openly criticized the agency for not doing enough to discipline the wayward district attorney.

In one of the more than thirty text messages, Kratz asked Stephanie Van Groll, “Are you the kind of girl that likes secret contact with an older married elected DA…the riskier the better?” When Van Groll filed charges, she claimed that the DA had threatened to reduce charges against her ex boyfriend from a felony to misdemeanor classification.

“This is everything a lawyer should not represent”, says A. Harrison Barnes, attorney and founder. “If true, it’s an absolute disgrace to the legal field as a whole”.

Making matters worse, other women have come forward, according to the Journal Sentinel. A hotline has been established by the state’s Division of Criminal Investigation as well as the Department of Justice in an effort to encourage victims to come forward. It’s completely anonymous and tips can be provided without fear.

In a letter written to the Office of Lawyer Regulation, Kratz reiterates he suggested nothing “other than a friendship”. He then goes on to say that communication lasted for less than a month, during a time that he was separated from his wife and as they were considering divorce. He goes on to deny any wrongdoing at all. He said Van Groll flirted with him and that he immediately removed himself from the case upon learning she filed a police report. He finishes his letter with a reminder to the agency that he’d served as the chairman of the state’s Crime Victims Rights Board.

Incredibly and with no further investigation, the agency sent a letter to Van Groll that stated it did not believe Kratz intended any degree of professional misconduct and that her complaint would not be considered for any further investigation. A. Harrison Barnes says that the letter even mentioned that the author had “spoken with District Attorney Kratz to make him aware of your concerns”.

In late September, 2010, Kratz submitted his resignation amidst new accusations, including one from a law student who sought Kratz’s help for obtaining a pardon for a past drug conviction and another domestic abuse victim. His resignation comes within a week of a scheduled removal hearing was to begin.

No word on whether Kratz is once again separated from his wife; however, the couple had reconciled at one point.

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