The attorneys representing New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and other men charged in a Florida massage parlor prostitution investigation are asking a judge to block the release of video recordings police say shows them engaging in sexual acts.
They also say the prosecutors’ conditions for the men entering a diversion program in exchange for dropping misdemeanor charges of soliciting prostitution are too harsh.
Attorneys for Kraft and 14 of the other 24 men charged said in court documents filed this week that releasing the video taken secretly by police inside the Orchids of Asia Day spa during January would violate the state’s public records law.
They said the videos should not be released because they are part of an ongoing investigation and have not been released to the defendants as part of the discovery process, where both sides exchange evidence for examination before trial. Under Florida law, most evidence collected in criminal cases is made public during discovery with some exceptions, such as confessions.
Kraft’s attorneys and the Patriots have declined comment. The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the video. The Associated Press is part of a media coalition trying to get evidence in the case released.
Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, a Florida public records advocacy group, said the defense attorneys are misreading the law. She said prosecutors and police have the discretion to release evidence during an active investigation if they choose.
Kraft is one of about 300 men charged in multiple counties between Palm Beach and Orlando as part of a crackdown on illicit massage parlors and human trafficking. Ten parlors have been closed and employees have also been charged. Many of the women are originally from China, were forced to live in the spas and were not allowed to leave without an escort, according to investigators.
According to police records, Kraft was chauffeured on the evening of Jan. 19 in a white 2014 Bentley to the massage parlor, where officers secretly recorded him engaging in a sex act and then handing over an undetermined amount of cash.
Investigators said Kraft returned 17 hours later, this time arriving at the upper-middle class shopping center where the spa was located in a chauffeured 2015 blue Bentley. Kraft, who is worth $6 billion, was again videotaped engaging in sex acts before paying with a $100 bill and another bill, police said.