Robert Kraft is charged with soliciting prostitution in Fla.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Robert K. Kraft, billionaire owner of the New England Patriots, allegedly paid for a sexual encounter at a Jupiter, Fla., spa on Jan. 20, just hours before his team won the AFC Championship game, court records released Monday show.
It was the second time in two days Kraft had visited the massage parlor, which was among 10 area spas targeted in a major crackdown on human trafficking and prostitution. On both occasions, the sexual acts were captured on video cameras that police had installed, according to court records.
The documents, made public Monday, provided sordid new details in the stunning accusations against Kraft, among the most powerful figures in professional sports.
Kraft and nearly 200 other men were swept up in a sprawling law enforcement investigation of Florida massage parlors that provided sexual services from women who were forced to live in the spas and perform sex acts on eight or more men a day, the authorities said.
The details of Kraft’s two alleged visits to the spa were outlined in a probable cause affidavit filed in a West Palm Beach courthouse, where Kraft, 77, is slated to be arraigned April 24 on two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution. Kraft, who bought the Patriots in 1994, was not taken into custody.
Through a spokesman, Kraft has denied engaging in any illegal activity.
Kraft, who has a home in the Palm Beach area, first visited the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in nearby Jupiter around 4:45 p.m. on Jan. 19, according to the affidavit. Kraft got out of the passenger side of a white Bentley wearing a blue shirt and a blue baseball cap and was taken to a massage room after paying cash at the front desk, the affidavit stated.
Kraft lay naked on a massage bed and partially covered himself with a sheet, according to the redacted affidavit. While he waited, he used his cellphone. Two women entered the room, and at least one of them performed a sex act on Kraft, the affidavit stated; he gave them cash, and they responded by hugging him and helping him get dressed.
At 5:25 p.m., Kraft left the spa and got in the Bentley, which was pulled over by law enforcement. The affidavit said the “front seat passenger was positively identified . . . as Robert Kraft.”
Despite the encounter with police, Kraft returned to the spa just before 11 a.m. the following day, roughly seven hours before the Patriots played their conference championship game in Kansas City, records show. This time, he arrived in a blue Bentley.
Kraft was again taken to a massage room, where a woman hugged him as he disrobed, the affidavit stated. She performed a sex act on Kraft for several minutes, records show. He handed her a $100 bill and at least one other bill, according to the affidavit.
He left the premises shortly before 11:15 a.m., about 15 minutes after he arrived.
At a news conference Monday, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said many of the women in sex-trafficking rings are “themselves victims, lured into promises of a better life,” only to be forced into working in sweatshops and brothels. “It is built on force, fraud, or coercion,” he said. “It is evil in our midst.”
Victims of human trafficking can have prostitution-related arrests expunged if they “speak up,” and they can be eligible for special visas, he said.
Solicitation defendants span the socioeconomic spectrum, he said, adding that “no one gets any special justice in Palm Beach County.”
“This isn’t about lonely old men and a victimless crime,’’ he said. “This is about enabling a network of criminals to traffick women into our country for forced labor and sex.”
Last week, Jupiter police said they were seeking second-degree misdemeanor charges against Kraft. On Monday, Aronberg filed two first-degree misdemeanor counts, a more severe charge. Each count of soliciting prostitution carries a maximum jail term of one year, 100 hours of community service, a $5,000 fine, and a class on the effects of trafficking.
None of the 25 defendants charged with soliciting prostitution at the Jupiter spa is facing felony human trafficking charges, Aronberg said.
Aronberg said there will not be a warrant for Kraft because he has a local residence. He will be issued a summons.
Another high-profile businessman charged was John Childs, cofounder of a Boston private equity firm, J.W. Childs Associates, who is accused in connection with the investigation of a spa in Vero Beach, Fla. On Monday, the firm announced Childs’s retirement.
Childs was not currently active in the management of the firm but stepped down as chairman and as “director of the board at Key Impact, a Fund IV portfolio company,” the company said. Childs “has had a successful investment career spanning the past five decades.” He established J.W. Childs Associates in 1995, according to the statement.
“John built an enduring and strong business and we appreciate his many contributions to JWC,” said Adam Suttin, the firm’s managing partner.
Also on Monday, the NFL released an updated statement on the Kraft case, insisting the league “will take appropriate action as warranted.”
The full NFL statement read: “Our Personal Conduct Policy applies equally to everyone in the NFL. 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.”
The NFL’s conduct policy states that “it is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime. We are all held to a higher standard . . . ”
Meanwhile, defense lawyers are seeking to block authorities from releasing photos, videos, and audio recordings. They represent about a dozen unnamed people charged with solicitation, as well as several who have not been arrested.
One of the lawyers, Jordan R. Wagner, on Monday declined to publicly disclose his clients in the matter, who are unidentified in the complaint. He said his clients do not include Kraft. In his court filings, Wagner argued “these surreptitious video recordings were unlawfully made” and are “a shocking affront to the personal privacy” of his clients.