Kratz scandal could have 'chilling effect' on all victims - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Kratz scandal could have 'chilling effect' on all domestic violence victims


By Jamie Hersch - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MADISON (WKOW) -- Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz's alleged sexually harassing text messages to a domestic violence victim is troubling those fighting against domestic violence in Wisconsin.

Tami Dzikowich, a representative from the Wisconsin Department of Justice, told the Wisconsin District Attorney's Association Kratz's actions would have a chilling effect on crime victims in Calumet County and beyond.

"This is probably not the first [time]. This is the first that was caught," said Tami Dzikowich, training director for the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Shannon Barry is the executive director of Madison's Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS).

"I think a lot of victims are probably watching this situation unfold to see how it's going to be responded to and I think if it's not responded to well and if it's not taken seriously, it could have a devastating effect on other victims," said Barry.

Every day, Barry tells victims there is a way out - a path to freedom and protection from their abusers.

Now Barry says that path - the justice system - has a major roadblock named Ken Kratz.

"I thought it was horrifying that somebody in a position of power like that who was supposed to be protecting the interest of crime victims would use that position of authority to retraumatize the victim by sexually harassing her," said Barry.

Barry says Kratz's text messages send a clear message that the justice system is broken.

"Batterers often tell their victims not to report the domestic violence crimes because they aren't going to be believed or the system isn't trustworthy, and I think this situation reinforces the message for victims," said Barry.

Right now, only one-fourth of all domestic violence cases are ever reported to authorities. Barry says it's hard enough to come forward when you trust the system and nearly impossible when you don't.

However, if Governor Jim Doyle makes good on his plans to fire the Kratz, Barry says there is still hope.

"I really think the governor has an opportunity right now to demonstrate to the state of Wisconsin that we take crime victim rights seriously and I hope he uses his authority and moves forward," said Barry.

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