Patriots owner Robert Kraft charged with soliciting prostitution
Surveillance video of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft allegedly paying for and receiving oral sex during a visit to a South Florida day spa in January will be released by the Palm Beach State Attorney’s Office — unless the agency is blocked by court order, according to an official notice to the court filed by the agency Wednesday morning.
The state attorney filed a notice to the court on Wednesday stating that the agency could not continue to withhold the video without a court order, as it was no longer exempt from public records as part of an ongoing investigation.
“We believe these videos are public records,” said Michael B. Edmondson, executive assistant to the state attorney.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported redactions will include blurring nudity.
For now, the videos still haven’t been released. And they won’t be for at least 12 more days.
A circuit court judge ruled Wednesday afternoon that the video cannot be released until after a hearing scheduled for April 29 to determine whether the release of the videos could be a violation of constitutionally mandated rights to privacy and a fair trial.
Kraft was charged with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution at an Asian Day spa in Jupiter in late January. He was busted as part of a sweeping investigation into a prostitution ring that spanned two Florida counties, and resulted in five spa closures and charges against dozens of men who allegedly had paid for sexual acts at the spas. Several managers and owners of the spas were arrested on charges of running a house of prostitution.
Although authorities initially indicated their investigation focused on possible human trafficking, prosecutors said late last week they had no evidence that trafficking had occurred.
Key evidence in the prosecution’s case are videos from surveillance cameras placed inside the spas in mid-January, via a warrant obtained through a local judge.
Kraft’s attorneys filed a motion to block the release of the videos, both as part of his own court case and in the felony case against the spa madams, claiming their release would be both an invasion of Kraft’s privacy and could undermine his right to a fair trial.
The Miami Herald along with several other media organizations went to court in an effort to push for the release of the videos.
“There are many questions about this case, including how and why police videotaped inside Orchids of Asia,” said Miami Herald Managing Editor Rick Hirsch, referencing the spa where Kraft allegedly solicited sex. “The Herald sought the release of the videos because we zealously fight for access to public records to fully understand the stories we tell. We have no desire to show video of Mr. Kraft or women who may have been exploited engaged in a sex act.“
In a court filing early Wednesday, attorneys for Kraft called the state attorney’s decision to release the video barring a court order “an extraordinary and alarming development” and a “bad-faith attempt to circumvent judicial review prior to a resolution of the pending motions for protective orders.”
In an emergency hearing Wednesday afternoon, Circuit Judge Joseph Marx, threw out Kraft’s motion to block the release of the videos in the case against the spa’s madams, according to attorney Dana McElroy, representing the Herald and other news organizations. However, the judge also temporarily blocked the release of the video until an April 29 hearing on a similar request from the madams.
Kraft’s motion to block the release of the video in his own case is still pending a decision by a judge, according to McElroy.
Kraft’s attorneys also filed a motion to block the video from being entered as evidence in the case against the NFL owner, claiming the video was gathered illegally. That hearing is scheduled for April 26.