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Woman says Wis. DA harassed her as she sought pardon
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Maria Ruskiewicz turned her life around after she was convicted on a marijuana charge in 1997.
She earned two college degrees. She was accepted to law school. And now she was seeking a pardon to wipe away her felony from her troubled teenage years.
Standing in her way, she said Tuesday, was Calumet County District AttorneyKen Kratz, who had prosecuted her and whose support was critical as she asked Gov. Jim Doyle for a pardon. Mr. Kratz agreed to support her, she said, but soon wanted something in return.
Ms. Ruskiewicz said Mr. Kratz sent her inappropriate text messages implying that he wanted to have a sexual relationship with her in 2008 while her pardon request was pending. Ms. Ruskiewicz, an Oklahoma City University law student,
Mr. Kratz has acknowledged sending 30 text messages in three days last year to a domestic abuse victim while he was prosecuting her ex-boyfriend. In the messages, Mr. Kratz asked whether the woman was “the kind of girl that likes secret contact with an older married elected DA” and called her a “tall, young, hot nymph.”
A second woman complained to Mr. Doyle’s office last week that Mr. Kratz invited her to an autopsy after they went to dinner in January, “provided I act as his girlfriend and would wear high heels and a skirt.”
Ms. Ruskiewicz said that, in her case, the messages upset her and she wanted them to end, but she also didn’t want to anger someone who held power over her future.
“The reason why I’m coming forward is he abuses his power, not only with women, but with women in certain situations who are extremely vulnerable to his authority,” Ms. Ruskiewicz, 31, told the Associated Press.
Mr. Kratz’s attorney, Bob Craanen, denied that his client invited the second woman to witness the autopsy and has apologized for the text messages to the abuse victim. Mr. Craanen said he did not know anything about Ms. Ruskiewicz’s claims and could not reach Mr. Kratz, who is receiving inpatient therapy.
Mr. Kratz announced Monday he was going on medical leave indefinitely. He has rejected calls from lawmakers, peers and victims’ advocates to resign.
Ms. Ruskiewicz went to Kratz in 2008 asking for support for her pardon application. She said they met in his office, where he asked an odd question about whether she thought it was appropriate for a boss to have a sexual relationship with a secretary. She said she was confused but grateful for his support.
He gave her his cell phone number, and she texted him later to thank him for the help — a move she now calls a mistake.
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