Saturday, September 18, 2010

If Kenneth Kratz is the prize, I don't want to play.

The problem with our "sparks fly" theme is that your post on Calumet County district attorney Kenneth Kratz obliges me, in theory, to defend him.

To recap, this whole thing apparently started when muckrakers with the Associated Press obtained a year-old report that a 26-year-old woman complained the police after she received 30 texts from Mr. Kratz.

If the story ended there, Mr. Kratz's statements that this was a "non-news story" might be correct. Sadly for Mr. Kratz, there is a wrinkle. He met the woman when she came to see him regarding her domestic abuse complaint against her ex-boyfriend. Over the next 3 days, Mr. Kratz, who apparently felt le coup foudre, sent this woman 30 text messages. The texts are available here.

Now, the young woman was the victim of domestic abuse-abuse that involved her nearly being choked to death. Possibly this soured her on a romantic entanglement with our man in Calumet County. Moreover, the young woman was perhaps reluctant to get involved with Mr. Kratz because he was married. However, Mr. Kratz attempted to alleviate this concern by telling her "I would not expect you to be the other woman. I would want you to be so hot and treat me so well that you'd be THE woman! R U that good?" His ardour was so strong that normal rules of spelling and capitalization no longer applied.

Mr. Kratz's romantic pursuit was not successful. The woman responded politely at first, saying Kratz was "a nice person" and thanking him for praise. But on the second day of receiving text messages she started saying "no" in response to his questions. Undaunted, Mr. Kratz questioned whether her "low self-esteem" was to blame for the lack of interest.

Another wrinkle to the case was that Mr. Kratz also was the chair of the Wisconsin Crime Victims' Rights Board, a quasi-judicial agency that can reprimand judges, prosecutors and police officers who mistreat crime victims. Clearly then, Mr. Kratz knows or should know what is, and isn't mistreatment of crime victims. So, perhaps we can infer that, if Mr. Kratz was doing it, it was not mistreatment. Sort of like what Richard Nixon told David Frost about how if the president does something illegal it isn't illegal because it was the president who did it. In any event, as you mention, Mr. Kratz seems to argue it can't be mistreatment because, as you quoted, he is a "prize."

In any event, the woman eventually complained to the police and, now that people knew what he did, Mr. Kratz promptly removed himself from the prosecution. Taking action as soon as someone finds out you are behaving inappropriately is a sign of the sort of leadership the citizens of Calumet County expected when they elected him. No wonder he is going to run for re-election in 2012.

As Mr. Kratz noted to the AP, he is the real victim here. He put it best when he said "I'm worried about it because of my reputational interests." I'm worried about it because of my 25 years as a prosecutor."

As the Appleton Post-Crescent reports, Mr. Kratz, in a testament to either his continuing obliviousness or to his willingness to lead in tough times, says he intends to "continue to serve as the Calumet County district attorney" as he was elected to do. Unfortunately, for Mr. Kratz anyway, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle can apparently remove Mr. Kratz from office.

Weighing in on the topic is the the executive committee of the Wisconsin district attorneys association. They wrote a letter to Mr. Kratz calling for his resignation and stating that his behavior was repugnant. “Our entity does not have the capacity to sanction or discharge you,” the letter states. “However, those of us who have supervisory duties in our offices have no hesitation in declaring that any prosecutor in our own offices would be discharged for this type of behavior.”

What do I have to work with? Consenting adults? Nope, she said no. Mr. Kratz wasn't using his position to try an force a relationship with the woman? Nope, she said she felt she if she spurned his advances he won't prosecute the ex-boyfriend. Maybe I can say the emails were not sexual. After all, Mr. Kratz said that in an email to the Wisconsin Department of Justice. No, that won't work because he wrote things like, “Are you the kind of girl that likes secret contact with an older married elected DA ... the riskier the better?” Maybe it is just me, but asking about risky and secret contact with a married elected official certainly seems sexual.

I've got nothing to say in defense of the man. His actions are deplorable and incomprehensible. I can't imagine how he thought sending text messages like this to a domestic abuse victim was the proper thing for him to do. The lack of judgment he showed in this matter is appalling. The sad thing is that it would not be surprising if on Monday or Tuesday we learn that this isn't the first time he has done something like this. It would be quite a coincidence if he got caught the first time he used his position as DA to hit on someone.

So, I guess no sparks fly on this one. But I am willing to try to create some. This guy is a terrible person and a horrible parent. Please disabuse me of that notion.

1 comment:

  1. I am not going to try to disabuse you of the notion that this guy is a terrible person and horrible parent. However! If someone tries to sue his kid's doctors, I may be willing to defend them.


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