A Black River Falls attorney accused of trading cash and legal services for sex has agreed to plead guilty to three misdemeanor charges, avoiding a trial.

James Ritland, a former district attorney, will plead guilty to two counts of attempted adultery and one count of disorderly conduct, according to a deal presented Monday to La Crosse County Circuit Judge Todd Bjerke.

Ritland was scheduled to stand trial Aug. 9 on multiple felony charges, including soliciting prostitution and maintaining a drug trafficking place.

According to a criminal complaint, a woman told authorities she ran into Ritland in 2013 and he told her he could help if she needed money, after which she visited his office across from the Jackson County Courthouse and received cash in exchange for oral sex and showing him her breasts, according to the complaint.

A second woman, who had filled in as a paralegal at Ritland’s office before landing in legal trouble, said Ritland offered to let her pay off her bills with sexual favors; he also gave her money to purchase heroin and “shoot up in his office” and posted bonds in La Crosse and Jackson counties to get her out of jail, according to the complaint.

A third woman reported she and the second woman went to Ritland when they were “dope sick” and needed money, and he paid her to show him her breasts. The woman said she wasn’t providing information to authorities to receive a deal on outstanding charges but rather because it “was wrong that Ritland was using drug sick girls to get his sexual pleasures,” according to the complaint.

Ritland also requested intercourse, paying at least one of the women to bring “other girls to him,” according to the complaint.

Ritland, 63, served as Jackson County District Attorney from 1981 to 1982. He ran for judge in 2015, finishing last in a six-way primary shortly after authorities began investigating him.

The Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation has not filed a public complaint with the state Supreme Court. Office director Keith Sellen said he could neither confirm nor deny if the office has opened an internal review.

Under Supreme Court rules, an attorney is required to report it to the OLR, which would then conduct its own investigation. It is considered professional misconduct to commit a criminal act that “reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness.”



Rhymes with Lubbock. La Crosse Tribune reporter and data geek. Covers energy, transportation and the environment, among other things. Call him at 608-791-8217.

Load comments