Court Roundup

Wisconsin: Ex-prosecutor claims immunity from lawsuit
CHILTON, Wis. (AP) — The Calumet County district attorney who resigned last year after a sexting scandal argued in a legal filing that because he was a public official at the time, he’s immune from a crime victim’s civil lawsuit alleging sexual harassment.

Ken Kratz made his argument in a document filed Friday. It came in response to a lawsuit filed by Stephanie Van Groll following last year’s public disclosure that Kratz had sent her sexually suggestive text messages in 2009 while he was prosecuting her ex-boyfriend.

Her lawsuit, filed in October, claims that the series of text messages violated her constitutional rights to due process and equal protection.

Kratz denies “allegations attempting to interpret or mischaracterize” the text messages included in the complaint, according to the response written by  Kratz’s attorney, Rob Bellin. The filing also said Kratz denies responsibility for any injuries the woman suffered as a result of her communications with him.

“All such injuries and damages were caused by her own conduct, negligence and behavior, or through the conduct of third parties and through no fault or conduct on the part of the defendant,” the document said.

Kratz sent Van Groll 30 text messages in three days last year while prosecuting her ex-boyfriend on charges of beating and nearly choking her to death.

In the text messages Kratz asked the 26-year-old whether she was “the kind of girl that likes secret contact with an older married elected DA” and called her a “tall, young hot nymph.”

Kratz admitted sending the text messages. At least four other women have said Kratz made inappropriate sexual advances toward them.

He resigned from his position in October, days before a hearing that would have been part of then-Gov. Jim Doyle’s effort to force him from office. Van Groll filed the federal lawsuit a week later.

In Kratz’s response he claimed absolute immunity and qualified immunity, which are legal doctrines that shield government officials from being sued for a violation of a person’s constitutional rights. The doctrines apply when conduct doesn’t clearly violate rights that a reasonable person would have known about.

Van Groll’s complaint says Kratz, by virtue of his position and training, knew that victims of domestic violence were particularly vulnerable to harm from unwelcome sexual advances. Kratz had been chairman of the state’s Crime Victims Rights Board until he resigned under pressure from the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Van Groll’s lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of money. Kratz has asked that the case be dismissed.

New Jersey: 2 charged with stealing iPad users’ information
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Federal prosecutors in New Jersey are announcing the arrests of two men accused of stealing e-mail addresses and other information from more than 100,000 Apple iPad users.

Daniel Spitler of San Francisco and Andrew Auernheimer of Fayetteville, Ark., face charges of fraud and conspiracy to access a computer without authorization.

Spitler is scheduled to appear in federal court in Newark Tuesday afternoon. Auernheimer is to appear before a federal judge in Fayetteville, Ark.
AT&T Inc. in June acknowledged a security weak spot that exposed the e-mail addresses of apparently more than 100,000 iPad users. The company said the vulnerability affected only iPad users who signed up for AT&T’s “3G” wireless Internet service.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office will hold a 12:30 p.m. news conference to detail the investigation.


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