Official Investigation Launched for Wisconsin DA Ken Kratz, Accused of Sexting

Three women claim Calumet County DA Ken Kratz sexually harassed them by text.

September 20, 2010, 5:07 PM

<a href="" target="external"></a>Sept. 22, 2010 &#151; -- Two formal complaints have been filed against the Wisconsin district attorney accused of sexually harassing three women over text messages on separate occasions, paving the way for an official investigation that could end in the DA's dismissal.

Calumet County residents Heather Severson and Rev. Kathleen Gloff, neither of whom appear to have any direct connection to any of the "sexting" cases, filed their complaints against Calumet County prosecutor Ken Kratz with the office of Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle.

"Kenneth Kratz has abused his power and his actions constitute inefficiency, neglect of duty, official misconduct or malfeasance," Severson's complaint read. What follows is more than two dozen pages of complaints, many directly quoting from Kratz's text messages to each of the three alleged victims.

"To effectively enforce the laws of our state, Kratz must have the trust of victims in his community," Gloff's complaint said. "I and other citizens of Calumet County have no confidence in Kratz's ability to refrain from abusing his power and engaging in misconduct."

Armed with the complaint, Doyle authorized Bob Jambois of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Office General Counsel to investigate the claims.

Kratz has reportedly been notified of the charges. A public hearing for Kratz was announced, but a date was not given.

Doyle told "Good Morning America" Monday he was waiting on the formal complaint to begin the removal process.

"My reaction was the same as everyone who has worked on these issues over the years that this is just a terrible violation of trust," he said.

Alleged Victim: Likely More Victims

The complaint comes the same day that one of his alleged victims told "GMA" there are likely more women out there that have been subject to Kratz allegedly inappropriate behavior.

"A man like this has got a pattern of abusive behavior of his power," Maria Ruskiewicz, 31, told "Good Morning America" in a live interview. "There is no way we're the only three women out there."

Ruskiewicz claims that Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz began sending her sexually explicit texts in 2008 after the two met about clearing up an old drug charge against her.

"He would say things like, 'I'm in Traverse City with my family. ... Can we meet in between the sheets?'" Ruskiewicz said in describing the texts. She said she did not report the inappropriate contact because she believed her case depended on Kratz's support.

"I was freaked out. I was scared for my future, scared to be stripped of the years I've worked so hard to get this clemency," she said. "I've just received clemency. That's why I'm coming forward."

Ruskiewicz is the third woman to report such sexually charged texting. The first accusation against Kratz came to light last week when The Associated Press published several text messages from Kratz to Stephanie Van Groll, the victim in a domestic violence case Kratz was trying in the fall of 2009. Van Groll, 26, reportedly received texts from Kratz in which he called her a "tall, young, hot nymph" and asked whether she is "the kind of girl that likes secret contact with an older married elected DA."

Kratz admitted to texting Van Groll and offered his "sincere and heartfelt apology" at a news conference Friday. He also said he had already begun psychotherapy to address the "selfishness" and "arrogance" that led to him contact Van Groll.

"My behavior was inappropriate," Kratz said. "I'm embarrassed and ashamed for the choices that I made, and the fault was mine alone."

Kratz's office announced Monday he'd gone on leave.

Adding to Kratz's woes, a second woman came forward Monday to claim similar harassment, saying Kratz had offered to let her attend an autopsy. In an e-mail written to Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle last week, the woman claimed to have met Kratz online in December 2009. On a dinner date, the woman said Kratz divulged to her the details of an ongoing murder investigation in which a woman was believed to have been killed by her boyfriend.

Kratz's recently hired attorney, Robert J. Craanen, did not return calls for comment on the most recent accusation, but Craanen did deny to the AP the second woman's claim about the autopsy date and said he knew nothing of Ruskiewicz's claims.

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