Sept. 20, 2010 — -- The Wisconsin prosecutor who admits sending dozens of racy text messages to a domestic violence victim with whom he was hoping to start an affair went on "medical leave" today, as the governor of his state pledged to move forward "very, very swiftly" with proceedings to remove him from office.
The office of Calumet County District Attorney Kenneth R. Kratz announced his departure from his daily duties in a news release Monday, saying the nine-term elected prosecutor would be away from work for an undetermined period of time.
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, a former district attorney and state attorney general, says he will start proceedings to remove Kratz from office as soon as a "verified complaint" is filed by a county taxpayer, as required by law.
Pressure on Kratz to resign has grown daily since The Associated Press first reported last week that he sent more than two dozen text messages last year to a 26-year-old woman whose boyfriend he had been prosecuting for allegedly trying to strangle her.
Stephanie Van Groll went to police after receiving the messages 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 D.A."
"It troubles me deeply that somebody turns to the criminal justice system for help and receives the kinds of texts that we have seen," Doyle told reporters in Madison, Wis., on Monday.
While deflecting calls to resign, Kratz offered his "sincere and heartfelt apology" at a news conference Friday, during which he said he had already begun psychotherapy to address the "selfishness" and "arrogance" that led to him contact the woman.
"My behavior was inappropriate," Kratz said. "I'm embarrassed and ashamed for the choices that I made and the fault was mine alone."
Van Groll told state investigators that the first text message from Kratz came ten minutes after she left his office in October 2009, following a meeting at which she detailed the abuse that her boyfriend had inflicted.
Over two days, 29 more messages from Kratz followed, increasing in suggestiveness and at times taking a threatening tone.