Video of Robert Kraft at day spa cannot be used in solicitation trial, judge rules

In a setback for prosecutors, surveillance video of the New England Patriots owner allegedly engaging in illegal sex acts has been suppressed.

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By Doha Madani and Xuan Thai

A judge has granted New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft's motion to suppress surveillance video, which allegedly showed him engaging in illegal sex acts at a Florida day spa.

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 claim he paid for a sex act at the spa 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.

Prosecutors will not be able to use surveillance video of Kraft allegedly engaging in illegal sex acts or body camera footage of a traffic stop after he left the spa, which police used to identify Kraft, in the trial of the NFL team owner.

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Judge Leonard Hanser of Palm Beach County said in his decision that the state did not do enough to minimize the consequences for innocent people caught on tape participating in legal services at the spa.

"Video surveillance is a constant form of search that takes place over an extended period of time, and for that reason, it often captures innocent behavior that is intended to be private," Hanser said in his decision.

Palm Beach prosecutors did not immediately comment on the decision to NBC News.

Previously, Kraft's attorneys filed a motion for a protective order, claiming that publicly releasing the evidence ahead of the trial would invade his privacy and jeopardize his right to a fair trial on the misdemeanor charges.

Hanser ruled in late April 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 the Defendant is who he is.”

Lawyers for several media organizations, including NBC News, had filed a motion to argue for the release of the video.

Hanser scheduled a “calendar call" for next week to schedule the trial and ordered Kraft, who has been absent in hearings so far, to appear.