New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has pleaded not guilty to soliciting prostitution, just days after Jupiter police identified him as one of two dozen men caught on camera engaging in sex acts at an illicit massage parlor.
Kraft, 77, a billionaire who lives in Massachusetts and has a home in Palm Beach, is requesting a non-jury trial to address two misdemeanor counts, according to recently released court documents. The paperwork was filed Tuesday by Kraft’s attorney, Jack Goldberger.
Kraft is among the men charged in a crackdown on massage parlor prostitution and an investigation into human trafficking at 10 spas from Jupiter to Martin County to Orlando. The spas were shut down and several people, mostly women originally from China, were charged with running the operation.
While two dozen men were charged in the Jupiter case, hundreds more are being charged in connection with the other spas.
Jupiter police said Kraft paid for sexual acts at the Orchids of Asia massage parlor, the night before and morning of the Jan. 20 AFC Championship game. He then flew to Kansas City, where he saw his team beat the Chiefs.
In a statement last week, a spokesperson for Kraft said they “categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity.” Goldberger couldn’t be immediately reached Thursday despite a request for comment left at his office.
Caught on camera
At a news conference last Friday, Jupiter police handed out the list of the names of the men accused, adding that Kraft and the others all were caught on video engaging in illicit acts.
“The videos that we obtained, it shows the acts that took place on every gentleman you have a list of, the acts that took place is recorded on that video,” Jupiter Police Detective Andrew Sharp told reporters at the time. Police confirmed the footage was captured, in part, after they planted cameras inside the business for their investigation.
But any footage linked to the cases may not become publicly available anytime soon, officials said.
Jupiter police plan to leave it up to the Palm Beach County prosecutor’s office to decide if and when the videos are made public, Jupiter Town Clerk Sally Boylan told the South Florida Sun Sentinel in an email Wednesday.
Heading to court
Typically, such videos become public after defendants’ lawyers have requested such evidence from prosecutors in preparation for trial, legal experts say.
But prosecutors don’t yet have the videos, said Michael Edmondson, a spokesman for the Palm Beach County prosecutor’s office. In such cases, it’s up to each individual police agency to decide “what they actually do” with the footage before a case heads to trial, he said.
Lawyers for some of the defendants are opposed to the videos’ release, filing court motions last week to try to block their release.
Richard Kibbey, a Stuart-based lawyer representing some of the defendants, wants to halt any footage of the defendants from being publicly released in both Palm Beach and Martin counties. That request is pending.
He called it a “personal victory” that Jupiter police don’t plan to make videos public.
Information from The Associated Press was used to supplement this report.
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