Florida prosecutors are dropping charges of soliciting prostitution against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, according to court papers filed Thursday.
Kraft, 79, was accused of paying for sex acts at the Orchids of Asia Day spa in Jupiter, Florida, on consecutive days in January 2019. Kraft pleaded not guilty but issued a public apology for his actions.
Palm Beach County prosecutors lost a key court decision this week that led to the court tossing video and audio surveillance of Kraft allegedly soliciting a woman at the Orchids of Asia Day spa.
"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," according to a court filing by the office of Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg.
Kraft was one of at least 25 people arrested as part of a months-long human trafficking investigation that police say spanned from China to Florida. He was facing two misdemeanor counts of solicitation.
But a Florida appeals court ruled last month that Jupiter police violated the rights of Kraft and others when they secretly installed video cameras inside massage rooms at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa. The court barred the use of the surveillance footage at trial, and Aronberg's office opted not to appeal the ruling.
"Without these videos, we cannot move forward with our prosecutions and thus we are ethically compelled to drop the cases against all the defendants," Aronberg said at a Thursday afternoon news conference.
Aronberg said the cases against the owner and manager of the Orchids of Asia spa will move forward.
“The Orchids of Asia Day Spa was a notorious brothel in a family shopping center right next to a game room that attracted children," added Aronberg.
Aronberg also lamented the "economic inequalities" in the justice system that allow wealthy defendants to hire top-class investigators and lawyers to poke holes in criminal cases.
Kraft's lawyers filed a motion on Monday asking for the recordings to be destroyed so they could never be released to the public. But Aronberg said the videos would not yet be discarded because of the ongoing case against the spa's owner and manager, as well as a pending civil case.