The attorneys representing Robert Kraft and others are asking a judge to block the release of video police say show the men engaging in sexual acts
The attorneys representing New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and other men charged in a Florida massage parlor prostitution investigation are asking a judge to block the release of video recordings police say show the men engaging in sexual acts. They also say the prosecutors conditions for the men entering a diversion program in exchange for dropping misdemeanor charges of soliciting prostitution are too harsh.
Attorneys for Kraft and 14 of the other 24 men charged said in court documents filed this week that releasing the video taken secretly by police inside the Orchids of Asia Day spa during January would violate the states public records law. They said the videos should not be released because they are part of an ongoing investigation and have not been released to the defendants as part of the discovery process, where both sides exchange evidence for examination before trial. Under Florida law, most evidence collected in criminal cases is made public during discovery with some exceptions, such as confessions.
Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, a Florida public records advocacy group, said the defense attorneys are misreading the law. She said prosecutors and police have the discretion to release evidence during an active investigation, if they choose.
Kraft is one of about 300 men charged in Florida as part of a crackdown on massage parlors and human trafficking. Ten parlors have been closed and employees have also been charged. Many of the women are originally from China, were forced to live in the spas and were not allowed to leave without an escort, according to investigators.
Police say Kraft visited the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida, twice in late January just before he flew to Kansas City to see the Patriots defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game. According to police records, the 77-year-old billionaire was chauffeured to the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida, on 19 January, where officers say they secretly videotaped him engaging in a sex act and then handing over an undetermined amount of cash. Investigators said Kraft returned 17 hours later, and was videotaped once more engaging in a sex act. Hours later, he was in Kansas City for to see the Patriots beat the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game. His team then won the Super Bowl in Atlanta, the Patriots sixth NFL championship under his ownership.
Kraft has denied wrongdoing. The NFL has not taken any action against him but has said its personal conduct policy applies equally to everyone in the NFL and it will handle this allegation in the same way we would handle any issue under the policy.
Prosecutors have offered to drop the charges if Kraft and the men enter a diversion program for first-time offenders. That would include an admission they would be found guilty if their case went to trial, a $5,000 fine, 100 hours of community service and attendance in a class on the dangers of prostitution and its connection to human trafficking. They would also have to make a court appearance and be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. Prosecutors say the fine and community service are required by law and are not negotiable.
But attorneys representing other defendants say their clients will not accept the offer because it is much tougher than what is offered in other Palm Beach County solicitation cases. They say previous clients who accepted diversion were rarely required to concede guilt or appear in court, and were able to negotiate the size of fines and hours of community service. They have pointed to cases where men paid $300 or less in fines and court costs, and agreed to just 25 hours of community service.
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