Fans were shocked earlier in the week when it was announced that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft had been recorded soliciting sexual favors on two separate occasions at a Florida day spa. As could be expected, his people denied the allegations and claimed he did nothing illegal.
However, with the authorities having recorded evidence of the transactions, the writing appeared to be on the wall. He was guilty, would likely plead accordingly, and handle is punishment in as discreet a manner as possible.
When reports surfaced that he was not going to dispute the charges, the news did not come as a surprise. But, as it turns out, those reports were false.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss has reported that Kraft has entered a plea of not guilty to charges of solicitation.
The spa, along with several others in the Palm Beach County area had been under surveillance for months as part of an investigation into sex trafficking and prostitution. Kraft was documented as having been to the spa twice in a 24-hour period including the morning of the AFC Championship game.
On the tape, he can be seen receiving manual and oral sex from a woman at the spa. He can be seen giving her a $100 bill and another bill before leaving.
His court date was initially set for April 24 at 8:30 AM but has since been moved to March 27. While it was initially reported that he would have to appear in court, reports now indicate that he will not have to.
His attorney has requested a non-jury trial. A low-level warrant has been issued for Kraft’s arrest.
Should the 77-year old be convicted, he could face up to a year in jail, a $5000 fine, and be required to attend a class on the dangers of human trafficking.
Assuming the video evidence is as convincing as reports make it out to be, it would be shocking if Kraft’s attorney doesn’t figure out some way to settle the matter before it goes to trial. But whether that happens could be dependent on how much Kraft wants to stick to his initial story—that he has done nothing illegal.
Law enforcement officials have said that they expect the video to be released eventually but with the graphic parts blurred out in some fashion. Kraft’s lawyers will undoubtedly do everything they can to keep the video from leaking.
The NFL has said that it will be watching the case closely and has released statements indicating that Kraft would be subject to discipline under the league’s conduct policy.