Prosecutors in the Robert Kraft prostitution solicitation case in Florida are appealing a judge’s order tossing out video evidence that allegedly shows the New England Patriots owner paying for sex inside a spa, according to a court filing.
The filing this week stated that prosecutors are appealing Judge Leonard Hanser’s order suppressing all evidence obtained by Jupiter, Fla., police “through and in connection with” a search warrant authorizing the video monitoring and recording of conduct inside the Orchids of Asia Day Spa.
The appeal would go to the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida.
Hanser’s order, which came down May 13, was considered a major victory for Kraft as it complicated the prosecution’s case. The judge found that the warrant did not take the necessary precautions to protect the privacy of those receiving legitimate massages at the day spa.
Cameras allegedly captured Kraft and 24 other men paying for sex at the Jupiter massage parlor during a multiday surveillance operation in January. The 77-year-old billionaire has denied engaging in criminal activity, pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor prostitution solicitation charges, and requested a jury trial.
In other news in the Kraft case, what might have been a pivotal court event Friday was canceled, and Florida court officials have now ordered the status conference to be held Tuesday afternoon in West Palm Beach.
Court officials Friday first canceled the “status check” hearing, then rescheduled it to Monday afternoon, then changed it for the final time to 1 p.m. Tuesday when Hanser is expected to continue overseeing the case. It was not immediately clear Friday afternoon whether the appeal by prosecutors would have any effect on the scheduled status conference. Messages left with State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s office were not immediately returned.
If prosecutors were hoping to replace the silent videos of the day spa with the testimony of the woman who allegedly interacted with Kraft during visits on Jan. 19 and Jan. 20, the prosecutors were blocked on that front, too, when Lei Wang recently invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in court filings.
Wang allegedly managed the spa as well as performed sex acts on customers, according to court records. She is free on bail and has pleaded not guilty to 25 charges, including deriving support from prostitution and maintaining a house of prostitution.
Kraft’s only public comment regarding the matter came in March when he apologized, saying he had “hurt and disappointed my family, my close friends, my co-workers, our fans, and many others who rightfully hold me to a higher standard.”
Hanser, the judge, also has blocked the release of the videos in a parallel ruling under the state’s public records law. Kraft’s lawyers have asked Hanser to continue to keep the videos sealed, especially if prosecutors decide to drop the case against Kraft.
Kraft’s lawyers, William Burck and Alex Spiro, have asked Hanser to dismiss the criminal charges in light of his ruling that found Jupiter police improperly videotaped people, especially women, who received lawful massages during their visits. Messages left with Kraft’s defense team were not immediately returned Friday.
The National Football League has said it is monitoring the criminal case and may decide to discipline Kraft, one of the league’s most successful and influential owners, under its own rules for personal conduct.