The day before this year’s AFC championship game, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft rolled up to a strip-mall massage parlor in his white chauffeur-driven Bentley. Wearing a blue shirt and a blue ball cap, Kraft went inside and got undressed and paid for a sex act, according to a probable cause affidavit into charges filed against Kraft on Monday by the Palm Beach County State Attorney.
Police, who had set up surveillance at the Orchid of Asia Day Spa in the Jupiter Square Shopping Center in Jupiter as part of a burgeoning multi-county human-trafficking investigation, followed Kraft after he left the spa, according to the affidavit, and stopped his vehicle.
It wasn’t clear Monday if Kraft, 77, knew why police stopped him.
But this is clear, according to the charging document: Whatever police did related to Kraft wasn’t enough to stop him from visiting the very same spa on the very next day — less than nine hours before his team was set to kick off the AFC championship game 1,389 miles away in Kansas City — and again pay for a sexual act.
Kraft, a billionaire widower who Forbes estimates is worth more than $6 billion, still managed to get to the game in Kansas City and congratulate his team while hugging the Lamar Hunt Trophy as the conference champion.
That day had even more special meaning for Kraft: It was the 25th anniversary of his $172 million purchase of the ball club, which this year won its sixth Super Bowl title under his watch.
According to police, during Kraft’s second visit to the day spa on Jan. 20, this time arriving in a blue Bentley, a woman inside the massage parlor is seen on video “manipulating Kraft’s penis and testicles.” The encounter lasted less than 15 minutes, according to police.
Prosecutors say they have video in both instances supporting the charges. Both videos, they say, show the billionaire club owner entering the spa and paying at the front desk. And in both instances, prosecutors say the video shows Kraft removing his clothing and having his genitals massaged by a woman, then hugging and tipping before he leaves. In the second encounter the day of the AFC title game, prosecutors say Kraft tipped the woman at least $100 before leaving.
Late last week when news of Kraft’s charges became public, a representative of the owner who asked not to be named, said Kraft denied doing anything illegal.
“We categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity,” the spokesperson said. “Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further.”
It also wasn’t immediately clear how or if Kraft would be punished by the NFL. In the past, the league hasn’t spared owners who committed transgressions. In one instance, the owner of the San Francisco 49ers was fined $1 million for not reporting gambling charges.
Kraft, who has been charged with two counts of soliciting sex, was one of hundreds of johns caught up in a year-long multi-county sting of day spas that prosecutors say involved sexually trafficked women. Many of them came to the U.S. from China on temporary visas and were misled into believing they’d have decent, well-paying jobs and better lives.
Hundreds of men were charged in Palm Beach, Martin and Indian River counties. In Jupiter, where Kraft was charged, 24 others were also charged with similar crimes. Three women, including Hua Zhang, 58, who owns Orchids, are facing racketeering and money laundering charges.
At least eight day spas have been shuttered. Police said that in many instances the sex workers were living at the spas, sleeping on massage tables and cooking in pots out back.
Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg spoke of the year-long investigation Monday afternoon. He said Kraft is facing first-degree misdemeanor charges and will have to do 100 hours of community service and pay a fine or spend up to a year in jail. A Palm Beach resident, Kraft will receive a summons and doesn’t have to appear in court.
Aronberg warned not to focus too much on Kraft and instead to focus on the toll of human trafficking, where victims are often lured to the U.S. with false promises.
“Human trafficking often occurs in plain sight,” the state attorney said. “It’s about time the country has a real conversation about it.”
As of Monday, no one had been charged with human trafficking.