Kraft of­fered plea deal in mas­sage par­lor pros­ti­tu­tion case

The Buffalo News - - NATIONAL NEWS - By Ken Belson

Robert K. Kraft, the owner of the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots, has been of­fered a deal that in­cludes pay­ing a fine and do­ing com­mu­nity ser­vice in re­turn for ad­mit­ting that if his so­lic­it­ing pros­ti­tu­tion case were to go to trial, the pros­e­cu­tors would win.

The pros­e­cu­tors in Palm Beach County, Fla., of­fered the deal to Kraft and 24 other men who last month were ar­rested on mis­de­meanor charges of buy­ing sex at the Or­chids of Asia day spa in Jupiter, Fla.

The po­lice and pros­e­cu­tors say the mas­sage par­lor is the fo­cus of a wider in­ves­ti­ga­tion into hu­man sex traf­fick­ing in sev­eral coun­ties in Florida. Kraft – who faces two mis­de­meanor counts – and the other 24 men have been charged only with so­lic­it­ing pros­ti­tu­tion; they have not been charged with any crimes in con­nec­tion to sex traf­fick­ing.

News of the plea of­fer was first re­ported in The Wall Street Jour­nal.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into sex traf­fick­ing is still con­tin­u­ing, said Mike Ed­mond­son, a spokesman for the state at­tor­ney’s of­fice in Palm Beach County.

The of­fers were sent to all 25 men on Tues­day. It is un­clear how many of them will agree to the terms, par­tic­u­larly the pro­vi­sion that re­quires them to ad­mit that pros­e­cu­tors would win their case if it went to trial.

Dave Aron­berg, the state at­tor­ney for Palm Beach County, said on Twit­ter that “the of­fer of a de­ferred pros­e­cu­tion agree­ment with sev­eral con­di­tions to first-time of­fend­ers is stan­dard in cases like this.”

Kraft pleaded not guilty. He is sched­uled to ap­pear in front of a judge on March 28, though he may be rep­re­sented by his lawyer.

As a first-time of­fender with no crim­i­nal record, Kraft is un­likely to spend any time in jail.

Mis­de­meanors for so­lic­it­ing pros­ti­tu­tion rarely gen­er­ate head­lines. But the in­volve­ment of one of the most pow­er­ful own­ers in the NFL has turned what was a lo­cal story into an in­ter­na­tional spec­ta­cle. It has also shined a light on the prob­lem of hu­man sex traf­fick­ing, even though Kraft has not been ac­cused of any in­volve­ment in that part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Some law­mak­ers in Wash­ing­ton, in­clud­ing Sen. Ed­ward J. Markey of Mass­a­chu­setts, said they in­tended to take the cam­paign do­na­tions they re­ceived from Kraft, as well as John W. Childs, an­other bil­lion­aire fac­ing sim­i­lar mis­de­meanor charges, and do­nate the money to groups fo­cused on end­ing hu­man traf­fick­ing, ac­cord­ing to The Bos­ton Globe.

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