Judge agrees to destruction of Kraft massage parlor video

Jul 30, 2021, 12:16 PM | Updated: 1:18 pm

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A video recording of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and other men allegedly engaging in massage parlor sex will be returned to prosecutors for destruction, a Florida judge ruled Friday, ending a two-year saga that tarnished the reputation of one of football’s most successful luminaries.

Palm Beach County Judge Leonard Hanser agreed with prosecutors and Kraft’s attorneys that the recording given to him before he ruled it inadmissible at trial was not part of the permanent court file and will be returned for destruction.

Prosecutors dropped misdemeanor solicitation charges last year against Kraft and almost two dozen other men after a state appeals court upheld Hanser’s 2019 ruling. He determined that the warrant allowing the installation of hidden cameras inside a Jupiter, Florida, massage parlor didn’t sufficiently protect the privacy of innocent customers who received legal massages. Prosecutors chose not to challenge the ruling with the state Supreme Court.

Kraft and the others had been charged in February 2019 after an investigation into possible prostitution at the Jupiter massage parlor. It stemmed from a wider investigation into whether Chinese women were being sex trafficked to Florida. It ended without any significant convictions.

Police say they recorded Kraft, a widower, paying for sex acts at the spa on consecutive days in January 2019, including the morning of the AFC Championship game that the Patriots won in Kansas City that evening. Two weeks later, they won their sixth Super Bowl championship under his 28-year ownership, more than any team during that period.

Kraft, 80, had pleaded not guilty and his high-priced attorneys led the fight to get the evidence against him and the other men dismissed. He issued a 2019 public apology for his conduct, saying he had “hurt and disappointed” his family and Patriots fans. He could still receive punishment from the National Football League. According to Forbes Magazine, Kraft is worth almost $7 billion.

The Patriots declined comment Friday. The NFL did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

If Kraft had been convicted, he would have likely received a fine, community service and other sanctions that did not include jail time.

The recordings, which have not been made public, were the only known evidence that Kraft and the other men paid for sex at Orchids of Asia Day Spa. When the recordings were barred from trial, prosecutors had no choice but to dismiss the charges.

Of the other men charged, 19 cases were dropped. Three men went through a pretrial diversion program before the ruling, paying more than $5,000 in court costs. One pleaded guilty and paid $323. Another went home to Norway.

The investigation into Orchids of Asia was part of a broader, multi-county probe into possible sex trafficking of women to work in massage parlors. Law enforcement leaders said that while they suspected several women employed by the parlors had been trafficked, none cooperated with prosecutors and no one was charged with trafficking.

Felony charges against Orchids of Asia management were also dropped after the videos were barred.

Hua Zhang, the Jupiter parlor’s owner, pleaded guilty last year to misdemeanor charges of soliciting another to commit prostitution and renting space for prostitution. She received a year probation and paid $6,600 in court costs and fines.

Lei Wang, the spa’s manager, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of soliciting another to commit prostitution and received a year probation. She paid a $5,000 fine.

__

AP Sports Writer Kyle Hightower in Foxborough, Massachusetts, contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, standing at rear, speaks during a censure motion a...
Associated Press

Australian Parliament censures former prime minister

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s former Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday listed his achievements in government including standing up to a “bullying” China as he unsuccessfully argued against being censured by the Parliament for secretly amassing multiple ministerial powers. The center-left Labor Party government introduced to the House of Representatives a rare censure motion […]
21 hours ago
Associated Press

UN envoy: Military escalation in Syria is `dangerous’

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. special envoy for Syria warned Tuesday that the current military escalation in Syria is dangerous for civilians and regional stability, and he urged Turkey and Kurdish-led forces in the north to de-escalate immediately and restore the relative calm that has prevailed for the last three years. Geir Pedersen told […]
21 hours ago
FILE - President of Colombia Gustavo Petro arrives for a diner at the Elysee Palace to close the Pe...
Associated Press

Colombia asks for legal status for its people already in US

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia wants the Biden administration to grant temporary legal status to its citizens now living in the United States, noting its own efforts to address regional migration by hosting 2 million Venezuelans who fled their homes. Gustavo Petro, who was elected Colombia’s first leftist president in June, is committed to the […]
21 hours ago
A sign at Twitter headquarters is shown in San Francisco, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chi...
Associated Press

Twitter ends enforcement of COVID misinformation policy

Twitter will no longer enforce its policy against COVID-19 misinformation, raising concerns among public health experts and social media researchers that the change could have serious consequences if it discourages vaccination and other efforts to combat the still-spreading virus. Eagle-eyed users spotted the change Monday night, noting that a one-sentence update had been made to […]
21 hours ago
Associated Press

MLB sells share of BAMTech to Walt Disney Co. for $900M

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball has sold its remaining share of a streaming service technology company to the Walt Disney Co. for $900 million. The sale was disclosed Tuesday in Walt Disney Co.’s annual filing report through the SEC. MLB received the $900 million in exchange for the 15% stake it still had […]
21 hours ago
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, an image captured off a screen at the Jiuquan Satelli...
Associated Press

Chinese spaceship with 3 aboard docks with space station

BEIJING (AP) — Three Chinese astronauts docked early Wednesday with their country’s space station, where they will overlap for several days with the three-member crew already onboard and expand the facility to its maximum size. Docking with the Tiangong station came at 5:42 a.m. Wednesday, about 6 1/2 hours after the Shenzhou-15 spaceship blasted off […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
Judge agrees to destruction of Kraft massage parlor video