ESPN News Services
Authorities say New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft visited a Florida massage parlor for sex acts on the morning of the AFC Championship Game, which he attended in Kansas City later that day.
According to documents released by the Palm Beach State Attorney’s Office on Monday, it was the second visit by Kraft to the parlor in less than 24 hours.
The documents say Kraft arrived at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in a chauffeured 2015 blue Bentley at 11 a.m. on Jan. 20. He was videotaped receiving oral and manual sex from a woman at the spa in Jupiter. Officials say he gave her a $100 bill and another bill before leaving at 11:15 a.m.
The AFC Championship Game against the host Chiefs kicked off at 6:40 p.m. ET. Kraft, who is also the owner of the New England Revolution of MLS, was in attendance.
The 77-year-old Kraft, who was also seen soliciting prostitution on video surveillance just 17 hours earlier on Jan. 19, was officially charged with two misdemeanor counts of first-degree solicitation, Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg announced Monday.
A court date has been set for 8:30 a.m. ET on April 24. Kraft will have a “low level” arrest warrant issued in his name — similar to a traffic ticket — and he will not need to appear in court. Kraft has hired Jack Goldberger of firm Atterbury, Goldberger & Weiss to represent him in the process.
If convicted, Kraft could face one year in jail, a $5,000 fine, 100 hours of community service and attendance in a human trafficking dangers class.
In a statement Friday, when the nature of the charges were first announced, a spokesperson for Kraft said they “categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity.”
Kraft’s arrest was part of a crackdown on sex trafficking in Florida. Hundreds of arrest warrants, including 23 others in Palm Beach County, have been issued as a result of a six-month investigation, and more are expected. Ten spas have been closed from Palm Beach to Orlando, and several people charged with sex trafficking have been taken into custody.
Another high-profile businessman, former Citigroup President John Havens, 62, is also charged with paying for sex at the Orchids of Asia spa. He too has denied wrongdoing. He was Citigroup president in 2011 and 2012 and now runs a hedge fund that was spun off from Citigroup.
Authorities investigated the parlors for months, gathering enough evidence through observation, interviews with men stopped leaving the spas, trash bin searches and surveillance of their owners. Judges then issued warrants allowing them to secretly install cameras inside the spas to record what transpired.
Aronberg steered Monday’s news conference away from Kraft and to the larger issue of human trafficking, though no human trafficking charges have been filed against Kraft or any of the other defendants connected to the massage parlors.
“The larger picture, which we must all confront, is the cold reality that many prostitutes in cases like this are themselves victims, often lured to this country with promises of a better life, only to be forced to live and work in a sweat shop or a brothel performing sex acts for strangers,” Aronberg said.
Before raids began last week, most of the women were living in the spas and were not allowed to leave without an escort, police say.
Earlier Monday, the NFL said it will handle Kraft’s case as it would any other issue under the league’s conduct policy.
The NFL said in a statement Monday that its personal conduct policy “applies equally to everyone in the NFL” and it will handle “this allegation in the same way we would handle any issue under the policy.”
The league said it is “seeking a full understanding of the facts, while ensuring that we do not interfere with an ongoing law enforcement investigation.” The NFL said it will “take appropriate action as warranted based on the facts.”
Commissioner Roger Goodell could fine or suspend Kraft from any activities involving the Super Bowl champions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.