|Rep. Bill Kramer|
By DEE J. HALL
The Waukesha County District Attorney's Office on Friday charged state Rep. Bill Kramer with two criminal counts for allegedly sexually assaulting a Senate aide three years ago after a Republican gathering, according to a criminal complaint.
Kramer, R-Waukesha, earlier this month was stripped of his post as majority leader of the state Assembly by fellow Republicans after he was accused of sexually harassing one woman and inappropriately touching another during a trip in late February to Washington, D.C. One woman is a lobbyist; the other is a legislative staffer.
The felony charges of second-degree sexual assault issued Friday by Deputy District Attorney Debra Blasius stem from an alleged incident that occurred in Muskego on April 8, 2011.
The alleged victim, who was an aide to an unnamed senator, reported the incident to Muskego Police on March 5, just days after the allegations surfaced that Kramer had sexually harassed two women during the out-of-town trip.
It was unclear from the criminal complaint which senator the woman worked for and whether it was a state or U.S. senator.
Kramer's attorney, Jim Gatzke of New Berlin, said his client expects to be cleared.
"The process will provide Mr. Kramer with an opportunity to defend himself from the allegations and he will do so in the appropriate forum," Gatzke wrote in an email. "Once all of the information has been brought forward, Mr. Kramer is confident that he will be exonerated."
Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel is a Republican who is running for attorney general. He said he was not involved in the charging decision.
According to the criminal complaint:
The woman, identified only by her initials, reported that an intoxicated Kramer approached her after a Republican gathering called "Pints and Politics" at the High Tide Pub and Grill in Muskego asking for a ride.
She told Muskego Police detective Stephen Westphal that while talking with Kramer, he pushed her against her vehicle hard enough to bruise her back while groping her breasts. Later, while sitting in the passenger seat of the woman's vehicle, Kramer groped her breasts and groin and forcibly kissed her, the alleged victim told Westphal.
"(She) states that she felt dirty, scared and was afraid that the defendant was going to rape her," the criminal complaint said. "After the defendant leaned into the back seat to pick something up she was able to send a quick text message asking friends to return to the parking lot."
Although the woman did not report the alleged incident to police, the criminal complaint said she and an attorney drafted a letter warning Kramer to stay away from her. The detective said the letter, sent to Kramer on May 18, 2011, warned him to have no contact with the woman because of the "physical and sexual assault you perpetrated on (the victim) at the recent Pints and Politics event in Muskego."
The woman's account was bolstered by another woman, who said she found the alleged victim crying and "in a panic" when she met her in the parking lot that evening, and by Keith Best, first vice chairman of the Waukesha County Republican Party, who also was at the political event that evening.
Best told Westphal that he doesn't recall details but that the woman told her Kramer "got physical with her and put his hands where they did not belong."
Westphal also said the GOP official told him that the alleged victim "was extremely upset and distraught following the incident and this is why the incident stuck with him."
The detective wrote that the woman said she didn't report the incident to police earlier for fear of embarrassing herself, her family and the Republican Party. She told Westphal that she had suffered "night terrors" and other negative effects stemming from the alleged incident.
Westphal reported contacting Kramer, 49, on March 19 and asked the state representative to come in for an interview but that Kramer said he would not be able to come in until April because he was in "therapy for these issues."
According to Westphal's report, in a phone call, Kramer initially said he didn't recall the incident but alleged that the victim had "stuck her tongue down my throat" at an event in 2008.
Later, Westphal wrote, Kramer told him that "I am sure I kissed her good night" and may have made a pass at her but gave various answers when asked if he had touched her breasts.
"I am sure she said something about it not going any further, that is why I went home," the detective quoted Kramer as saying. "I am sure that happened but I don't remember it. I have been turned down a lot."
Each of the two charges is a felony punishable by up to 40 years of prison and extended supervision and a $100,000 fine. Kramer is scheduled to make his initial court appearance in the case at 8:15 a.m. April 14 in Waukesha County Circuit Court in Waukesha.
Kramer has filed papers with the state saying he will not run for re-election this year. Owner of a financial services company, Kramer has served in the Assembly since 2006.