A third woman has come forward claiming the Calumet County district attorney accused of “sexting” an abuse victim also sent her inappropriate text messages while helping her seek a pardon for a drug conviction, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
Maria Ruskiewicz, 31, said DA Ken Kratz sent her racy text messages after she met with him to discuss his support of a pardon on a decades-old drug conviction.
Ruskiewicz said the messages turned sexual after she sought his professional help, and she did not know how to respond because he was influential for her pardon.
Kratz, who went on indefinite medical leave Monday, already admitted to sending 30 messages to a domestic abuse victim whose boyfriend he was prosecuting for strangling her.
Stephanie Van Groll, 25, filed a police report after Kratz’s text messages over a three day period took a sexual turn, including calling her a “tall, young, hot nymph.”
A second woman sent a letter to Gov. Jim Doyle Sept. 17, alleging Kratz invited her to the autopsy of a woman killed by her boyfriend, but requested she wear high heels, a short skirt and accompany him as his girlfriend.
The third allegation comes amid calls from the Wisconsin Democratic Party for an independent probe into the Department of Justice’s handling of the situation, even as Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen, a Republican, announced Tuesday he will act as prosecutor in the predicted removal process of Kratz.
A DA can only be removed by the governor due to inefficiency, neglect of duty, official misconduct or malfeasance in office, according to as statement released by the DOJ Tuesday.
Doyle said Monday in a press conference he is only waiting on one verified complaint from a tax payer of Calumet County before he begins the process to remove Kratz from office.
Once the complaint is filed, Doyle said he hopes to initiate removal proceedings within 30 days if possible.
While on medical leave, Kratz is still receiving pay as DA of Calumet County.
Meanwhile, accusations are beginning to surface that Van Hollen’s office did not handle the situation appropriately when it first arose by not immediately bringing the matter to the attention of the governor.
“He had plenty of opportunities to give it to governor and he decided to sit on it,” said Graeme Zielinski, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Democratic Party. “He knew about it, he did nothing, we waited a year, and now we’re finding out more stuff about this guy’s activities.”
Zielinksi said what he sees as Van Hollen’s inaction amounted to conduct and the probe will uncover if that conduct was incorrect.
Van Hollen spokesperson Bill Cosh called this accusation inaccurate.
“Attorney General Van Hollen did not sit on this case; the Democrat[ic] Party of Wisconsin’s politically motivated suggestions that he did are false,” Cosh said in a statement. “In fact, until the governor’s announcement today, the attorney general is the only public official to take any action on this matter.”
The DOJ removed Kratz from the criminal case against Van Groll’s boyfriend, requested his resignation from the Crime Victim’s Rights Board and reported the incident to the Office of Lawyer Regulation in November.
The Office of Lawyer Regulation closed the preliminary investigation into the issue in March and did not recommend it for a formal investigation.