By DINESH RAMDE
WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — State Rep. Bill Kramer will plead not guilty to charges that he groped a woman’s breasts three years ago after a Republican fundraiser, his attorney told reporters Monday following Kramer’s court appearance.
The Assembly’s former majority leader was silent during the four-minute hearing in Waukesha County. A court commissioner imposed a $5,000 signature bond and ordered that Kramer maintain absolute sobriety and not have any contact with his accuser.
Kramer signed the bond quietly outside the courtroom. He didn’t speak as a gaggle of reporters and TV crews trailed him down the hallway asking whether he had anything to say to his constituents.
His attorney, Eduardo Borda, said Kramer will plead not guilty when he’s arraigned May 15.
“This knee-jerk reaction to discredit or destroy a politician is not a substitute for the presumption of innocence,” Borda said.
Kramer has represented Waukesha, an ultra-conservative city in southeastern Wisconsin, since 2006. He first got into trouble when allegations surfaced that he sexually harassed a lobbyist and a Wisconsin legislative staffer in February while he was in Washington, D.C., for a fundraiser.
Majority Republicans reacted by taking away his leadership position.
After the Washington allegations became public, another woman came forward and said Kramer attacked her as well during an event in Muskego three years ago. She told investigators he tried to kiss her, groped her breasts and told her he wanted to have sex with her.
The woman called the incident a “nightmare” but said didn’t she report it because she didn’t want to embarrass herself, her family or the Republican Party, according to a police report. She changed her mind after seeing the latest allegations, the report said.
Kramer acknowledged kissing her good night but denied groping her. Asked if the woman ever told him to stop, he told detectives, “I am sure she said something about it not going any further. That is why I went home. I am sure that happened, but I don’t remember it. I have been turned down a lot.”
Kramer told detectives he had been friends with the woman and that she had made a pass at him in 2008. That alleged event could end up playing a prominent role in the case.
“The defense certainly is going to scrutinize the claims and conduct of the witnesses,” Borda said.
While Kramer’s political career is almost surely over, how it reaches its formal end remains unclear. He has already said he won’t seek re-election in November but has refused to step down before then.
The Assembly has adjourned for the year, but Democrats have demanded that he resign from his job, which pays $50,000 a year. Republicans have also called on him to resign but say they won’t push to expel him from office.
Voters could organize a recall election, but by the time the process plays out his term would be nearly over.