Judge orders Robert Kraft to appear in court; video thrown out in related prostitution case
Robert Kraft won’t escape making a court-appearance for his high-profile solicitation case.
A Florida judge ordered the New England Patriots owner to appear at a May 21 hearing at the conclusion of three days of deliberations over the admissibility of video that allegedly shows Kraft receiving sexual favors at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida.
Ruling on spa video still pending
While Palm Beach County Judge Leonard Hanser ordered Kraft’s appearance, he did not rule on the legality of the alleged incriminating video. He is expected to do so at a later date.
Kraft’s legal team has challenged the video on multiple grounds, including arguing that lead investigator Andrew Sharp illegally obtained the warrant to install hidden cameras at the spa.
Warrant under scrutiny
Police issued a fake bomb threat to install the cameras, a tactic Kraft’s lawyers have argued is reserved for extreme criminal cases including terrorism, bomb making, racketeering and other felonies, not misdemeanor prostitution.
Investigators obtained the warrant to install the cameras while making the case that human trafficking was taking place at the spa. Prosecutors have since admitted that there is no case to pursue human trafficking charges.
Kraft’s legal team argued Wednesday that the video surveillance intruded on the privacy of innocent spa clients who arrived to receive massages and other legitimate services.
“You had people looking at these videos who had no idea what they were doing ... none of the criteria made sense,” Kraft attorney William Burck argued, per the Associated Press. “That's not because they are bad people. They didn't have instructions. If you have no instructions, the warrant has to go.”
Video ruled inadmissible in related case
The Associated Press reports that a judge in a related case in neighboring Martin County ruled that undercover video of massage parlor patrons was inadmissible because the video did not properly minimize surveillance of non-criminal activity at two spas caught up in a prostitution sting.
Hasner’s decision will be made independent of the Martin County ruling.
Kraft’s ordered appearance on May 21 will be at a hearing to determine if both sides are ready for trial. Kraft is one of 25 men facing charges of soliciting prostitution at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa.
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