Kraft charged with soliciting prostitution; one alleged incident on day of AFC title game
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was officially charged on Monday with two first-degree misdemeanour counts of soliciting a person to commit prostitution, the state attorney for Palm Beach County announced in West Palm Beach, Florida.
According to charging documents released by the state attorney's office, Kraft was videotaped on two occasions engaging in sex acts with a woman at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida. One of the alleged incidents happened on January 20, the morning of the AFC Championship game involving the Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs. The other is alleged to have occurred the day before.
It was announced on Friday that Kraft would be among 25 men charged with soliciting another to commit prostitution, as part of a wide-ranging probe into a Florida massage parlour targeted in a human trafficking investigation, and that video evidence existed of the alleged acts. The Jupiter Police Department installed cameras in the spa on January 17.
A spokesperson for Kraft duly released a statement that "categorically denied" the 77-year-old had been engaged in any illegal activity.
According to the charging documents released on Monday, Kraft was led into a room at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, where a woman engaged in oral sex with him. The act allegedly concluded with a payment of at least $100.
If convicted, Kraft faces up to one year in jail for each count, but generally such cases are settled with a fine and community service. He also would be required to attend a class on the dangers of prostitution and human trafficking.
A summons has been issued for Kraft's court appearance, which is scheduled for April 24.
"It is a summons, so he does not have to make a court appearance," Dave Aronberg, state attorney for Palm Beach County, told reporters on Monday.
"This is not about lonely old men or victimless crime," Aronberg added. "This is about enabling a network of criminals to traffic women into our country for forced labour and sex."
The NFL issued a statement earlier on Monday clarifying how it will respond to Kraft's situation.
"Our Personal Conduct Policy applies equally to everyone in the NFL," the statement read. "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. We will take appropriate action as warranted based on the facts."