Breaking News Emails
A judge has issued a temporary protective order over the release of surveillance video in a Florida day spa prostitution case after prosecutors said they intend to release a tape of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft allegedly engaged in a sex act as part of the investigation.
The state's public records law demands that authorities cannot delay the release of the evidence to allow a person, in this case, Kraft, to raise a constitutional challenge, State Attorney for Palm Beach County Dave Aronberg said in a Wednesday filing.
But a judge ruled Wednesday that prosecutors cannot release video evidence before April 29, when a ruling will be made on a protective order for Lei Wang and Hua Zhang. If the protective order is granted, the video will not be released.
The two women were arrested on charges of deriving support from prostitution, maintaining a house for prostitution, and offering to commit prostitution.
Kraft, 77, who pleaded not guilty to two counts of solicitation at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, has fought against the release of the video of him allegedly engaged in a sex act. The NFL owner's attorneys have also filed a motion for a protective order in his case and claimed that releasing the evidence would invade his privacy and jeopardize his right to a fair trial.
Kraft’s lawyer William Burck said at a hearing last week that the video is "basically pornography."
“There’s no need to see the video unless you actually have a prurient interest in seeing the video,” Burck said. “There’s no need for that [video] to be released for the public to understand what Kraft allegedly did.”
A judge has yet to decide on Kraft's own motion for a protective order but did deny the Patriots owner's request to intervene in the Zhang and Wang case.
Aronberg said in his filing Wednesday that the video would be either blurred or pixelated in its release. Releasing "unredacted, obscene records could constitute a first degree misdemeanor" under Florida law, the filing stated.
Lawyers for several media organizations, including NBC News, had filed a motion to argue for the release of the video.
Kraft was one of at least 25 people arrested in late February as part of a months-long investigation.
Investigators initially said they were targeting human traffickers. But Assistant State Attorney Greg Kridos told the judge Friday that there was no evidence of human trafficking at the Jupiter spa.
However, Jupiter police had obtained a search warrant as part of the investigation to secretly record at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, where they say Kraft was captured twice paying to have sex with spa employees.
Kraft released a statement addressing the charges against him in late March, a month after his arrest.
“I am truly sorry. I know I have hurt and disappointed my family, my close friends, my co-workers, our fans and many others who rightfully hold me to a higher standard," Kraft said.
Kraft said his "morals" and "soul" were shaped by his late wife Myra, who died of cancer in 2011.
“Throughout my life, I have always tried to do the right thing. The last thing I would ever want to do is disrespect another human being. I have extraordinary respect for women," he said.