|Calumet County District Attorney|
May 1992 – October 2010
|Succeeded by||Jerilyn Dietz|
Kenneth R. Kratz|
|Political party||Republican Party|
|Spouse(s)||Leah Kratz since 2017|
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater|
Marquette Law School
Kenneth R. Kratz, also known as Ken Kratz, is a lawyer and the former district attorney of Calumet County, Wisconsin. He gained prominence for trying a highly publicized homicide case, State of Wisconsin v. Steven Avery (2007), in which Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey were both convicted. This was the subject of Making a Murderer (2015), a Netflix 10-episode documentary series.
Kratz resigned from his office in October 2010 after a sexting scandal; he had written to a 26-year-old domestic violence victim whose ex-boyfriend he was prosecuting. Several other women also complained about him to state authorities. In 2013 he settled a civil suit by the first woman who had brought the complaint against him.
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 1983 and Marquette Law School in 1985, Kratz was admitted to the bar and licensed to practice law in Wisconsin. He worked in the La Crosse, Wisconsin City Attorney's Office from 1985 to 1987. He served as an assistant district attorney in La Crosse County, Wisconsin from 1987 to 1992.
Kratz was appointed district attorney of Calumet County by Governor Tommy Thompson. He served as president of the Wisconsin District Attorneys Association in 1996. Kratz chaired the Wisconsin Victim Rights Council in 1993 as well as its successor, the Wisconsin Crime Victims Rights Board, from 1998 to 2010.
In 1997, Kratz prosecuted a prominent child abuse case, in which parents allegedly locked their daughter in a cage. The mother pleaded guilty. In 2008, Kratz explored a run for the Republican nomination in Wisconsin's 6th congressional district.
Prosecution of 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach
Kratz was appointed special prosecutor and headed the investigation and prosecution of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey in neighboring Manitowoc County for the murder of Teresa Halbach on October 31, 2005. Manitowoc County officials had recused their Sheriff's department because it was being sued by Avery for wrongful conviction, following his exoneration in 2003 of a 1985 conviction.
Kratz gained convictions of both defendants in trials in 2007. Avery was sentenced to life without parole. Dassey, then 17-years-old, was sentenced to life, with no parole before he reached the age of 56. Dassey's conviction was provisionally overturned in August 2016, subject to appellate review.
2009 sexting scandal
In October 2009, Kratz was prosecuting a domestic violence case against the boyfriend of a 26-year-old domestic violence victim. She filed a police report in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, alleging that Kratz had sent her 30 sexually coercive text messages over the span of three days. She said that she felt that he was trying to coerce her into a sexual relationship at the risk of dismissing the case against her boyfriend. The report was referred to the state's Division of Criminal Investigation. During the DCI investigation, two more women came forward accusing Kratz of harassing and intimidating them. At the time, Kratz was serving as chairman of the Wisconsin Crime Victims' Rights Board.
In June 2014, Kratz's law license was suspended for four months by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. During the disciplinary hearing, Kratz admitted abusing prescription drugs and being treated for sexual addiction and narcissistic personality disorder.
In popular culture
Kratz's role in the Steven Avery case was documented in the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer (2015). Kratz did not cooperate with the producers or interview in the series. He later criticized them, saying they had left out key pieces of evidence.
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