New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft scored a procedural victory Tuesday as a judge temporarily barred the release of surveillance videos of him allegedly engaging in sex acts at a Florida spa.
Judge Leonard Hanser of Palm Beach County accepted arguments by Kraft's attorneys that releasing the video could harm his chances for a fair trial on misdemeanor prostitution charges.
The judge ruled Tuesday that the video should not be handed to the media as a public record until a jury is seated, a plea agreement is reached or the state of Florida drops the case.
“This case has drawn extraordinary media attention and it is not because of the nature of the alleged crime,” the ruling states. “Rather, it is because Defendant is who he is.”
Police say the video shows Kraft and other customers engaged in sexual acts with masseuses at the spa.
Lawyers for several media organizations, including NBC News, had filed a motion to argue for the release of the video.
Kraft, 77, pleaded not guilty in February to two counts of soliciting a prostitute at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida. Authorities allege he paid for a sex act at the spa on Jan. 19 and again the next morning, hours before the Patriots won the AFC Championship that sent them to the Super Bowl, according to court documents.
Kraft has fought against the release of video. His attorneys filed a motion for a protective order claiming that releasing the evidence would invade his privacy and jeopardize his right to a fair trial.
Kraft was one of several men charged with solicitation after police secretly installed cameras at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in what authorities initially said was a monthslong investigation into human trafficking. Investigators have since said that there was no evidence of human trafficking at the spa.
Kraft released a statement addressing the charges against him in late March, a month after his arrest.
“Throughout my life, I have always tried to do the right thing," he said in part. "The last thing I would ever want to do is disrespect another human being. I have extraordinary respect for women."