|Calumet County District Attorney|
May 1992 – October 2010
|Succeeded by||Jerilyn Dietz|
|Born||1960/1961 (age 57–58)|
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Political party||Republican |
|Spouse(s)||Leah Kratz (m. 2017)|
|Alma mater||University of Wisconsin-Whitewater|
Marquette Law School
Kenneth R. Kratz (born 1960-61), 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 Gov. 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.
As of August 2018, the Wisconsin State Bar reports Kratz is suspended from the practice of law in the State of Wisconsin for failure to pay dues and failure to comply with Continuing Legal Education Reporting requirements.
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, 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 interviewers in the series. He later criticized them, saying they had left out key pieces of evidence. After the release of the series, Kratz began receiving death threats. His Yelp page was flooded with negative comments criticizing his tactics during the case.
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- Lee, John. "A Natural for the Legal System," Appleton Post-Crescent (June 11, 2007).
- Office of Lawyer Regulation v. Kenneth R. Kratz
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- Lee, John (June 11, 2007). "Kratz has made a name for himself as prosecutor". The Post Crescent.
- "Ex-DA Ken Kratz's law license suspended in sexting scandal".
- Lee, John (March 11, 2008). "Calumet DA explores bid for Congress". The Post Crescent.
- "`He Would Unlock The Cage, Hoping . . .'". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
- "Mom Pleads Guilty In Abuse Case". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
- "Captcha". www.wisbar.org. Retrieved 2018-08-29.
- "Who's who in the Steven Avery case". Post-Crescent Media. December 22, 2015. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
- , Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
- Portnoy, Steven. "Wisconsin Prosecutor Admits 'Sexting' Domestic Violence Victim, Goes on Leave". ABC News. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
- Ferran, Lee. "Third Woman Accuses Wisconsin DA of 'Sexting' Harassment". ABC News. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
- "Wisconsin Governor Seeks to Oust DA for Sexting".
- "S.V. v. Kratz, No. 10-C-919, 2011 WL 6151480 (E.D. Wis. Dec. 12, 2011)".
- "Sexting lawsuit against former prosecutor settled," Appleton Post-Crescent, 13 February 2013, at A3-4.
- "Netflix". Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved December 19, 2015.
- "Making a Murderer: Filmmakers Respond to Steven Avery Prosecutor Ken Kratz". people.com. January 2, 2016. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
- Purl, Rachael. "Wisconsin prosecutor says he is getting death threats over Netflix documentary". Retrieved December 27, 2015.
- Griffin, Tamerra. "People Are Writing Scathing Yelp Reviews For The Prosecutor From "Making A Murderer"". Retrieved December 27, 2015.