Former Wisconsin District Attorney Kenneth Kratz argued today that it was through the “conduct, negligence and behavior” of Stephanie Van Groll that she came to sue him for sending sexually explicit text messages while he was handling her domestic abuse case.
Kratz filed a response today to a suit by Stephanie Van Groll, who claims Kratz violated her constitutional rights when he sent her text messages like: “Are u the kind of girl that likes secret contact with an older married elected DA…the riskier the better? Or do you want to stop right now before any issues?” At the time, Kratz was overseeing Van Groll’s domestic abuse case against her boyfriend. The suit argues that “under Wisconsin law, witnesses have the right to be protected from harm arising out of their cooperation with law enforcement.”
Kratz’s response argued that he “acted in a manner that was proper, reasonable, lawful and in exercise of good faith and reasonable standards of conduct at all relevant times,” and that “if any injuries were suffered by the Plaintiff, all such injuries and damages were caused by her own conduct, negligence and behavior,” or through that of a third party.
Kratz’s answer claims absolute immunity and qualified immunity, which is a legal doctrine that shields government officials from being sued for a violation of a person’s constitutional rights. That immunity is available when conduct doesn’t clearly violate rights a reasonable person would have known about.
The full response can be read here, in .pdf form.
Kratz previously admitted to sending the texts, though he argued that he “made it clear that any personal friendship that would develop would be after the prosecution was concluded. The messages were concluded by reminding the young women that it was her decision whether any future friendship would develop. No personal contact ever occurred with the woman other than one professional meeting.”
In December, the Wisconsin DOJ declined to provide representation for Kratz. Chief Legal Counsel Susan Crawford argued that the state does not believe Kratz was “acting within the scope of his employment when he committed the acts which are the subject of this lawsuit,” and therefore the state is not required to provide publicly funded representation.
The state DOJ has also opened a criminal investigation into Kratz.
Full coverage here.