April 30, 2012
By John Clark
A Wisconsin prosecutor who was forced to resign after sending sexually-tinged texts to several women has filed for bankruptcy protection, according to a recent report from WTAQ News.
Ken Kratz, who, in better times, served as the Calumet County District Attorney, reportedly listed 34 different creditors in his petition for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Not surprisingly, one of the primary creditors in his case is the lawyer who is helping to defend Kratz in a federal civil rights lawsuit that was filed against the former prosecutor.
Such civil rights cases often take years to complete, and can lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Unfortunately for Kratz, Robert Bellin, the lawyer who is currently defending Kratz in court, has reportedly requested to withdraw from the case because Kratz has not paid him in months.
Bellin's departure could delay a trial that has been set for late September. The trial was precipitated by a lawsuit filed by Stephanie Van Groll, who claims that Kratz sent her sexually explicit text messages in 2009 while he was prosecuting her boyfriend for allegedly abusing her.
Such actions are clearly a gross departure from the ethical norms attorneys must follow, and they made Kratz a temporary target for pundits in the national media. And such civil rights cases can be wildly expensive for defendants, particularly if they insist on pleading not guilty and taking the dispute to trial.
Sexual harassment cases often require hundreds of hours in legal work, which is why many defendants in these cases go broke before the dispute is even settled. Bankruptcy, in fact, is often the next step for cash-depleted defendants in high-profile cases.
Kratz's problems also extend beyond the sexual harassment lawsuit and the bankruptcy filing. Sources indicate that he will face a three-day hearing in June in which state officials will likely suspend his license to practice law for at least six months.
Interestingly, after he resigned from his state prosecutor position in 2010, Kratz opened a private law practice in Appleton, Wisconsin, but this venture seems to have failed, given the fact that sources say his firm's phone service has been disconnected. Sources say that Kratz is currently living in Florida.
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