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Robert Kraft, others seek to block release of surveillance video in prostitution case

The Patriots owner and other defendants are asking the court in Florida not to allow release of video allegedly taken at the Orchids of Asia massage parlor.
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New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has joined 14 other defendants in a motion filed Wednesday seeking to block any release of surveillance video evidence connected to charges that the men solicited prostitution at a Florida massage parlor.

The request comes in the wake of charges against Kraft, 77, and 24 other men in February as part of a monthslong human trafficking investigation, police said at the time.

The NFL owner pleaded not guilty in late February to two counts of solicitation at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida.

Kraft is not alleged to be involved in human trafficking, and a spokesman for him said in a statement last month that they "categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity."

The motion Wednesday seeking to prevent the release of any surveillance video was filed in Palm Beach County, where some of the defendants were charged.

It asks the court to "preclude any party from copying or permitting, facilitating, making or granting any public access" to evidence in the investigation, "including any video-evidence" on the basis that such materials constitute "criminal intelligence information."

A similar petition was filed by other defendants who were charged on the same day in February on solicitation charges. It was filed in Martin County, Florida, last month and asks that prosecutors not be allowed to use surveillance video in court, saying that such use of the videos "will result in irreparable harm and further public humiliation" if released.

Kraft, who is the billionaire CEO and chairman of The Kraft Group, allegedly visited the spa twice in January, once on the 19th and again on the morning of the 20th — hours before the Patriots won the AFC Championship sending them to the Super Bowl, according to court documents.

Investigators say he was seen on surveillance video with a spa worker on both days.

On his Jan. 20 visit, investigators say Kraft was seen on surveillance video paying cash "at the front desk to an Asian female," one of the affidavits released last month said. He was then escorted into a room where authorities said the sexual activity took place.

The woman then "helped him get dressed and hugged him again" before Kraft allegedly handed her at least $100 and left, the affidavit states.

Kraft and the others charged with solicitation in the Orchids of Asia probe were offered a pretrial deal to have their charges dismissed by Florida prosecutors earlier this week.

The men would have their charges dropped in exchange for their conceding that they would have been found guilty, completing 100 hours of community service per charge, taking an education course on prostitution, undergoing a screening for sexually transmitted diseases, and paying $5,000 per charge.

Each defendant would also have to provide a statement detailing what happened in the Orchids of Asia massage parlor room.

The pretrial deal is part of a deferred prosecution program sometimes offered to first-time offenders who concede the state would have been able to prove their guilt.

State Attorney for Palm Beach County Dave Aronberg said on Twitter on Tuesday that such deals with first-time offenders are "standard in cases like this."

Kraft was the only person in the investigation to be charged on two counts of solicitation, while the other men offered the deal only face one count. He is next expected in court March 28.

If convicted on the charges, Kraft faces up to one year in prison, as well as a $5,000 fine, 100 hours of community service and mandatory attendance at a class on the dangers of prostitution and human trafficking.