Former Assembly Majority Leader Rep. Bill Kramer, R-Waukesha, made his first court appearance Monday on two felony charges of second-degree sexual assault stemming from based allegations he groped and kissed a woman at a Republican fundraiser three years ago.
Kramer’s attorney has said he plans to plead not guilty to the charges.
The Republican caucus of the state Assembly replaced Kramer with Rep. Patricia Strachota, R-West Bend, last month and called for his resignation earlier this month based on separate allegations of sexual harassment.
“This knee-jerk reaction to discredit or destroy a politician is not a substitute for the presumption of innocence. He’s presumed innocent,” Eduardo Borda, Kramer’s attorney, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
If convicted, Kramer will be removed from his position in the Assembly, as is dictated by the state Constitution and statutes.
Republican leadership has said the criminal proceedings should continue without interference.
The counts of second degree sexual assault are considered a Class C felony and carry a penalty of a fine of up to $100,000, up to 40 years in prison, or both, according to the criminal complaint filed in Waukesha County Circuit Court.
“It is clear from these allegations and past transgressions that Rep. Kramer should no longer serve in the Wisconsin State Assembly,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said in a statement. ”Rep. Kramer has lost the confidence and trust of his colleagues and has brought disgrace to the institution and the state.”
A preliminary hearing is set for May 15.
Kramer’s office did not return calls for comment.