Patriots owner cleared of massage parlor sex charge
FORTLAUDERDALE,FLA.» Florida prosecutors dropped a misdemeanor charge against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on Thursday after courts blocked their use of video that allegedly shows himpaying formassage parlor sex.
Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said during an online press conference thatwithout the video recordings ofKraft, 79, and two dozen othermen paying for sex at theOrchids of Asia Day Spa, there wasn’t enough evidence to convict them.
“We are ethically compelled to drop all cases,” he said.
Kraft’s attorneys declined immediate comment. He could still face suspension or other punishment from the National Football League. TheNFL did not respond to a request for comment and the Patriots declined comment. Shortly after being charged, Kraft issued an apology for his actions.
Aronberg said that even though the chargeswere dropped against the spa’s customers, the felony cases against its owner andmanagerwill proceed using evidence such as bank records.
He said no one should doubtwhat occurred there. He said richmen froma local country club “lined up” to purchase sex at the spa, which was in a suburban shopping center near a supermarket, restaurants and other businesses.
“The Orchids of Asia Day Spa was a notorious brothel in a family shopping center right next to a game room that attracted children,” he said. “Although we cannot prove human trafficking beyond a reasonable doubt, there was evidence of human trafficking in the overall investigation.”
The attorney for owner Hua Zhang was surprised to learn of Aronberg’s decision to proceed against her client, saying prosecutors told a judge they needed the recordings for the case to stand.
“It is beyond ironic that the State’s entire prosecution was allegedly motivated by a desire to protectwomen from abuse,” attorney Tama Beth Kudman said in an email. “Yet, even after stating that the state did not have sufficient evidence to prosecute these women without thevideoevidence, theStatepersists in proceeding against them, while dismissing the charges against the men.”