Wisconsin ex-official's law license suspended over sexual conduct

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 06, 2014 3:10 PM

By Kevin Murphy

(Reuters) - The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday suspended the law license of a lawyer accused of making sexual overtures to women while serving as a district attorney, including the victim in a domestic abuse case that he was looking to prosecute.

The court ruled that Kenneth Kratz, a criminal defense lawyer in West Bend, Wisconsin, cannot practice law for four months because of his "appalling" conduct and ordered him to pay $23,904 for the disciplinary process.

Kratz had no immediate comment, a staff member at his law office said on Friday.

A lawyer since 1985, Kratz resigned in October 2010 as district attorney in Calumet County after three women accused him of sexual harassment.

One Wisconsin woman filed a civil lawsuit against Kratz alleging he sought a sexual relationship with her immediately after they met to discuss a potential prosecution of her live-in partner for domestic assault.

Kratz sent 30 text messages suggesting they have sex, "the riskier the better," according to her lawsuit. The woman feared that failing to comply with Kratz's requests would impact the domestic assault case, the Supreme Court wrote. She instead reported his text messages to police. "This was exploitive behavior, harassing behavior and a crass placement of his personal interests above those of his client, the state of Wisconsin," the court wrote. Two female social workers also alleged sexual harassment by Kratz, the court said. One woman said he made a comment about the size of a court reporter's breasts and another said he mentioned a sex act to her.

The Wisconsin Justice Department in 2011 decided not to file criminal charges against Kratz over the incidents.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Susan Heavey)