New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has been charged with paying for sex when he visited the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Fla., on Jan. 19 and Jan. 20. He was allegedly caught on video doing it.
The 77-year-old billionaire has denied engaging in criminal activity, pleaded not guilty, and requested a jury trial. He has also issued a statement, saying, “I am truly sorry.”
Where does his case stand now?
■ Kraft’s legal team has been fighting a pitched legal battle in court to have the video taken by secretly installed police cameras thrown out. A three-day hearing on Kraft’s motion to suppress that evidence concluded this week before Palm Beach County Judge Leonard Hanser. He’s taken it under advisement. If he rules that the evidence can’t be used, it could torpedo the case.
■ Kraft’s legal team has also been waging a separate battle to keep the video from being released to the public. Normally, under Florida public records law, it would be. Hanser has temporarily barred release of the video but has said the video could be released if Kraft goes to trial and a jury is sworn in, or if prosecutors decline to pursue charges, or if the two sides reach a plea agreement, or “any other time at which the court finds the fair trial rights of Defendant are not at risk.”
■ Kraft has been ordered to appear in court later this month for a May 21 hearing. It’s not clear why Hanser has ordered Kraft to come in for what Florida attorneys say is a routine hearing known as a “calendar call.” Kraft, who faces two misdemeanor charges, has so far avoided a court appearance. It’s possible he never will have to appear — if Hanser rules in his favor on the video evidence and the case falls apart.
■ There have been several hopeful signs for Kraft. Police had included possible human trafficking as a reason when they applied for a warrant for their hidden cameras. But prosecutors have conceded that no human trafficking was found during the investigation. Kraft’s high-powered legal team also worked aggressively during the three-day suppression hearing to poke holes in the prosecution’s case. And a judge in nearby Martin County, which was part of a multiple-county investigation of spas along with Palm Beach County, this week threw out video evidence collected by detectives there.