Patriots owner Robert Kraft was officially charged Monday with two first-degree misdemeanor counts of soliciting a person to commit prostitution, the state’s attorney for Palm Beach County announced today in West Palm Beach, Florida.
According to the charging documents (warning: graphic content), Kraft was videotaped on two occasions engaging in sex acts with a woman at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida. One of the alleged incidents happened Jan. 20, the morning of the AFC championship game involving the Patriots and Chiefs.
According to the charges, Kraft was led into a room at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, where a woman engaged in oral sex with him. The alleged act concluded at approximately 11 a.m. ET, per the charging affidavit, with a payment of at least $100. Afterward, Kraft left the spa in his Bentley.
Flight-time estimates from West Palm Beach to Kansas City are between 2 1/2 and 3 hours, which in theory could’ve put Kraft in Kansas City well ahead of the 5:40 p.m. CT kickoff.
The other alleged incident occurred the day before.
Kraft was one of 25 men charged after an investigation into prostitution and human-trafficking that began in October. The Jupiter Police Department installed cameras in the spa Jan. 17.
If convicted, Kraft faces up to one year in jail for each count, but generally such cases are settled with a fine and community service. He also would be required to attend a class on the dangers of prostitution and human trafficking.
A spokesperson for Kraft released a statement Friday that “categorically denied” the 77-year-old team owner had been engaged in any illegal activity. However, ESPN reports sources who have seen the video surveillance “say it is unquestionably Kraft and they don’t expect him to dispute the charges,” although he could plea down to a lesser charge.
A summons has been issued for Kraft’s court appearance, which is scheduled for April 24.
“It is a summons, so he does not have to make a court appearance,” Dave Aronberg, state attorney for Palm Beach County, told reporters Monday.
Aronberg also was keen on pointing out that the women involved in the investigation were the victims.
“This is not about lonely old men or victimless crime,” Aronberg said. “This is about enabling a network of criminals to traffic women into our country for forced labor and sex.”
The NFL issued a statement Monday clarifying how it will respond to to Kraft’s situation.
“Our Personal Conduct Policy applies equally to everyone in the NFL,” the statement read. “We will handle this allegation in the same way we would handle any issue under the policy. We are seeking a full understanding of the facts, while ensuring that we do not interfere with an ongoing law enforcement investigation. We will take appropriate action as warranted based on the facts.”
The NFL’s statement Monday could be viewed as signifying caution on the league’s part in waiting for the investigation to finish, while at the same time serving notice that Kraft — one of the league’s most powerful owners — will be held to the same standards as a player or coach.
Kraft’s punishment could depend in large part on if he’s found guilty, although NFL policy would allow him to be punished whether he’s found guilty or not.
Longtime NFL insider Peter King noted in NBC Sports’ weekly “Football Morning in America” that if Kraft is found guilty, he could face a significant suspension and large fine that “would show the league taking a stand against the burgeoning American issue of human-trafficking … as well as showing the public it won’t kid-glove a high-profile owner.”
SOURCE: Sporting News – Arthur Weinstein