Anti-human-trafficking activists want Robert Kraft banished from NFL
Robert K. Kraft should be banished from the National Football League if the professional league and Florida authorities demonstrate the owner of the New England Patriots participated in a pay-for-sex operation in Florida, anti-human-trafficking activists insisted Tuesday.
In a letter sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, 84 individuals and organizations from across the country, including the Boston-based My Life My Choice, urged the NFL to conduct its own investigation and to take notice of the investigation by Florida law enforcement.
If the league concludes that Kraft’s alleged actions violated the league’s code of conduct, which applies to owners as well as players, the NFL must put an end to Kraft’s role with the Patriots, the most successful franchise in league history.
“If the results of said investigation show Mr. Kraft to have engaged in the purchase of women for sex, the NFL must banish Mr. Kraft from team ownership because men who purchase others for sex inflict inestimable amounts of human suffering on those they exploit for sex,’’ the letter reads at one point.
The letter was drafted by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and sent to the NFL Tuesday. The group urged the NFL to suspend Kraft for six games at a minimum.
An NFL spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did a Kraft spokesman.
Kraft is one of 25 men who were secretly recorded by police as they allegedly paid for sex at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, where the Brookline-based Kraft has a home. According to prosecutors, Kraft visited the spa on Jan. 18 and Jan. 19 where a sex act was performed on him by women.
The second visit took place hours before the Pats appeared — and won — the AFC Championship game in Kansas City, a victory that set the stage for their eventual Super Bowl win, the sixth in team’s history, according to court records and Globe reporting.
Kraft has since been charged with two misdemeanors of soliciting others to commit prostitution. A not-guilty plea has been entered on his behalf by his Florida attorney, Jack Goldberger. The case against Kraft is scheduled for a March 28 hearing.
Florida prosecutors on Tuesday announced that they offered to drop misdemeanor prostitution solicitation charges against two dozen defendants, including Kraft, if they agree to conditions including an admission that authorities had enough evidence of their guilt.
Kraft has not decided whether to accept the offer from Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s office, according to a person familiar with the billionaire team owner’s legal strategy.
Lisa L. Thompson, vice president of policy and research at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, said she was pleased that the Kraft case was brought forward and that law enforcement officials in that case were focusing on the sex-buyers. But she also said that first-time offenders in sex-buying cases need to face more serious penalties across the country.
“If this is the typical deal, then we have a problem with what the standard practice is,” she said.
She added that, “We have to get serious about combating male sex buying behavior that this is not an acceptable social norm.”
When asked about reaction to the deal offered Kraft, Lisa Goldblatt Grace, the executive director of, My Life My Choice, the Boston-based nonprofit that is focused on ending commercial sexual exploitation, said in a statement that “Our focus is truly not on the Kraft case, but rather on the larger issues related to trafficking and sexual exploitation.”
“We’re frankly not interested in using our platform to adjudicate an individual case — it detracts from the voices that matter most, like the girls and young women we serve,” she said.
In 2015, the Patriots Charitable Foundation donated $100,000 to My Life My Choice.
Last month while announcing the charges against Kraft and 24 other men, Aronberg noted the penalties could range from up to one year in jail, to a $5,000 fine, a mandatory 100 hours of community service, and attendance at an educational program “on the negative effects of prostitution and human trafficking.”
Aronberg tweeted Tuesday that “the offer of a deferred prosecution agreement with several conditions to first time offenders is standard in cases like this.”
In the five-page letter sent to Goodell, opponents of human trafficking quoted from the league’s code of conduct that forbids “sexual assault or other sex offenses.” The code of conduct also says that an owner or player does not have to be convicted of a crime in order for the league to take action.
The activists described the effect sex trafficking has on its victims.
“The choice of Robert Kraft, and millions of men like him, to buy other human beings for sex is why the supply chain of organized sexual exploitation exists,’’ the letter reads. “Whether or not the sex buyer is aware that the individual they have purchased is sexually trafficked or not does not mitigate the victim’s experience of their sexual encounter as one of rape.”
The group called on the NFL to take a stand against human trafficking.
“As sad and lamentable as the circumstances which precipitated this letter are, we recognize that they represent opportunity — the opportunity to close a chapter on sexist and exploitative attitudes and behaviors, and to work collaboratively to build a world where all are free from sexual abuse and exploitation,’’ the letter reads. “We hope you will stand with us in fighting for that world.”