Prosecutors in Florida have dropped the charges against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft stemming from a 2019 prostitution sting, after an appeals court recently determined law enforcement violated the Constitutional rights of Kraft and others when they took secret recordings in a massage parlor.
What are the details?
Kraft stood accused of visiting the Orchids of Asia Day Spa early last year, and was allegedly caught on video engaging in a sexual act with a woman. He was charged with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution.
The NFL franchise owner pleaded not guilty to the charges, but issued an apology at the time, saying in part, “I am truly sorry. I know I have hurt and disappointed my family, my close friends, my co-workers, our fans and many others who rightfully hold me to a higher standard.”
But The Washington Post reported that “last month, a Florida appeals court ruled that the video of Kraft would be inadmissible at trial, confirming a lower-court ruling that the ‘sneak and peak’ search warrant used to obtain the footage violated the fourth-amendment rights of Kraft and others caught up in the sting.” The outlet noted that 24 other people had been charged in connection to the operation.
With the court tossing out the evidence, prosecutors determined the case against Kraft and others was too weak to move forward.
NBC News reported that a filing by the office of Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg explains, “Although there was probable cause to make an arrest, the evidence cannot prove all legally required elements of the crime alleged and is insufficient to support a criminal prosecution.”
“We are ethically compelled to drop all cases,” Aronberg said during an online press conference, according to the Associated Press.
The outlet further reported, “Aronberg said that even though the charges were dropped against the spa’s customers, the felony cases against its owner and manager will proceed using evidence such as bank records.”
Beth Kudman, the attorney for Orchids of Asia Day Spa owner Hua Zhang reacted to that in an email to the AP, saying, “It is beyond ironic that the State’s entire prosecution was allegedly motivated by a desire to protect women from abuse. Yet, even after stating that the state did not have sufficient evidence to prosecute these women without the video evidence, the State persists in proceeding against them, while dismissing the charges against the men.”