A Florida judge did not rule Friday on whether surveillance video will be released in the Robert Kraft prostitution sting case.
Instead, Judge Leonard Hanser asked all parties to submit proposed orders in the case by Tuesday. The sting resulted in misdemeanor charges against Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots.
Friday’s hearing at the Palm Beach County Courthouse took place after media outlets, including CNN, requested that video from the sting be released. The video allegedly shows Kraft receiving paid sexual services at a Florida day spa in January.
But Kraft’s legal team said the video was “basically pornography” and is asking a judge to prevent the videos’ release to the news media, in part because the footage’s release would violate Kraft’s right to privacy.
The defense also argued that the court should prevent the videos’ public release at least until it rules on Kraft’s argument that the footage was illegally obtained and therefore should be kept from trial. That ruling is expected later this month.
The media coalition’s attorneys argued that the public has a right to obtain the video and that Kraft does not enjoy the right to privacy as a criminal defendant in a criminal case.
The state attorney’s office, which said it does not plan to release the video until the court rules, said that while the investigation started as a human trafficking case, “there is no human trafficking that arises from this investigation.”
Kraft’s legal team argued that that was one of the reasons why Kraft wouldn’t get a fair trial — because the public would associate him with human trafficking, even though no human trafficking occurred.
Kraft’s lawyers also want video kept from trial
Kraft was charged in February with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution after the sting at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida.
Kraft pleaded not guilty and requested a jury trial. Through a spokesman, he denied committing a crime.
Hundreds of people were charged in the multi-jurisdictional sting that began in October and involved other massage parlors and day spas in Florida.
Separate from the issue of whether the media can obtain the video, Kraft’s attorneys have asked the judge to keep the video out of the trial. In court documents, his attorneys argue law enforcement provided false information in the affidavit to obtain a warrant for the prostitution sting, thus making the video evidence inadmissible.
A hearing on that matter is scheduled for April 26.
On Friday, Kraft’s attorney William Burck told Hanser that it was vital to bar the media’s access to the video before the court rules on its admissibility in trial.
If the media is allowed to air the video now, but the court eventually rules the footage is inadmissible and the case still goes to trial, many potential jurors will have seen the video and will be tainted by evidence they weren’t supposed to consider, Burck argued.
“The irreparable harm to Mr. Kraft (if it’s released before a judge can rule on its admissibility at trial) … will be absolutely catastrophic, whereas the public’s interest in seeing this video is all about prurient interest,” Burck said.
Kraft won’t accept a deal to get charges dropped, source says
Florida prosecutors offered to drop misdemeanor charges against Kraft in exchange for fines, community service and an admission that he would be found guilty if he went to trial. But a source familiar with the case told CNN that Kraft will not accept the deal.
“I am truly sorry,” Kraft said in a statement last month. “I know I have hurt and disappointed my family, my close friends, my co-workers, our fans and many others who rightfully hold me to a higher standard.”