Pa­tri­ots owner cleared of mas­sage par­lor sex charge

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - SPORTS - By Terry Spencer

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.”

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