Florida police unveil operation taking place in spas around the state
The Santa Clara
February 28, 2019
When news broke about New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft was facing two charges for solicitation in southern Florida last Friday, a spokesman for Kraft denied he committed any crimes and stated that they would not be commenting further.
Since then, the story has developed and more information has been released about the details of the event and Kraft’s charges. The 77 year-old was one of roughly 25 men charged in this case, involving connections to a prostitution ring in Jupiter, Fla.
According to the Palm Beach State Attorney’s Office, part of the prostitution ring was conducted out of a massage parlor called Orchids of Asia Day Spa. Kraft visited the massage parlor on the morning of Jan. 20—the same day as the AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs hosted in Kansas City. By the time the game kicked off at 6:40pm EST, Kraft was in attendance.
This was his second visit to the massage parlor in the last 24 hours, as he was also seen leaving 17 hours earlier on Jan. 19. In both accounts, video surveillance recorded Kraft receiving sexual acts from a woman in the spa in exchange for cash.
Earlier this week, Kraft was officially charged with two misdemeanor counts of first-degree solicitation. A low-level warrant has been issued for his arrest but, despite being called an arrest warrant, Kraft is not going to be handcuffed and taken into custody.
Instead, Kraft received a summons in the mail instructing him to turn himself in. Through the legal process, his lawyers have since made arrangements for a court date in Florida—set for 8:30 a.m. on April 24. Kraft will not need to appear in court and has hired Jack Goldberger from Atterbury, Goldberger & Weiss firm to represent him.
If Kraft is convicted, he may face up to one year in jail along with 100 hours of community service, $5,000 in fines and a class on the dangers of prostitution and human trafficking.
However, Florida has a “diversion plan” under its state law which usually allows firsttime offenders to avoid jail time. Therefore, many legal experts expect him to stay out of jail, even if he is convicted.
On the other hand, punishments by the NFL are almost certain. While they do not carry legal weight and are by no means as severe, possible punishments could include a fine or a suspension. Kraft may also choose to donate to causes that combat prostitution and human trafficking, but many would likely question the sincerity of this move.
“Our Personal Conduct Policy applies equally to everyone in the NFL,” the NFL’s official statement said. “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.”
Kraft, however, is the biggest name on a list of hundreds of arrest warrants that were issued as part of a major crackdown on human trafficking in southern Florida. And in this revelation comes the bigger issue. Kraft’s situation is not as much a concern about one powerful individual doing something wrong (although this is certainly true) as it is about the larger problem of human trafficking.
These arrests were part of a sixmonth long investigation by Florida police. The shutdown of Orchids of Asia Day Spa and the charges brought against Kraft and 23 others in Palm Beach County represented only one of 10 other spas across the southern half of the state and hundreds of arrest warrants to occur within the same week.
The investigations included authorities gathering evidence through observation, interviews with men leaving the spa and trash bin searches. When enough information was gained in order to obtain a warrant, judges issued warrants to let officers secretly install cameras inside. From there, the raids began early last week.
The women in the spas were essentially trapped. They were living inside and not allowed to leave the building without an escort.
So, with more information coming to light as the story develops, the many complicated layers of the situation are also becoming clearer. What will happen to Kraft in court next month?
Will the legal system allow him to escape with minimum punishment?
Depending on the verdict, how will the NFL punish Kraft and what will this say about a league historically criticized for giving lenient and dismissive punishments?
And lastly, will this event do anything to highlight the continued issue of human trafficking in the U.S.?
We will not know the answer until Kraft’s court date, but with the video evidence released earlier this week, Kraft’s lawyers might want to revise their argument from last Friday.
Contact Kyle Lydon at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.