Txt msgs spell trouble 4 DA

Domestic-abuse victim was target

MADISON, Wis. - A Wisconsin district attorney said yesterday that he'd get therapy and take time off but rejected growing calls for his resignation over sexual text messages he sent to a domestic-abuse victim.

At a news conference two days after the messages were reported, Calumet County D.A. Ken Kratz offered a "sincere and heartfelt apology" to the woman, his soon-to-be-ex-wife and the public.

"This behavior showed a lack of respect, not only for my position but for the young woman that was involved," he said from the courthouse in Chilton in remarks carried live by Wisconsin television stations. "My behavior was inappropriate. I'm embarrassed and ashamed for the choices that I've made and the fault was mine alone."

The statement marked the most remorse Kratz, 50, has shown since acknowledging Wednesday that he sent 30 text messages in three days to 26-year-old Stephanie Van Groll last October, prompting her to report the harassment to police.

In one, he asked whether she was "the kind of girl that likes secret contact with an older married elected DA." In others he called her a "tall, young, hot nymph" and questioned whether her "low self-esteem" was to blame for her lack of interest. At the time, he was prosecuting her ex-boyfriend on strangulation charges.

Critics blasted Kratz for refusing to resign and said his news conference was unconvincing. Kratz left without taking questions after reading a four-minute statement.

Rep. Fred Kessler, D-Milwaukee, and two victims' advocacy groups said Gov. Jim Doyle must remove him from office. Kratz's apology came after Doyle said through a spokesman that he was "surprised and shocked by these deeply troubling accounts," and a group representing D.A.'s said Kratz had tainted the profession.

"His repeated attempts to minimize his behavior show he either is in denial or only concerned for his personal interests," the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault said in a statement. "This pattern would be expected from criminal defendants, but not a sitting district attorney."

The groups urged state officials to "act swiftly to restore justice in Calumet County."