On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that prosecutors in Palm Beach County, Florida, had offered New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and other “Johns” in the wide-ranging prostitution and human trafficking case a deal that would lead to charges being dropped.
It was unclear at the time of the WSJ report whether Kraft would be open to accepting the deal, and now there’s another report that says he isn’t.
It’s a non-starter
The deferred prosecution deal offered to Kraft and others is a bit unusual in that it requires those charged to review the evidence in the case and agree that if it went to trial, they would be found guilty of prostitution solicitation.
ESPN investigative reporter T.J. Quinn tweeted on Tuesday night that admitting guilt is “a non-starter” for Kraft.
Kraft has pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor counts of solicitation.
Kraft’s court date is scheduled for March 28. Quinn reported that there are two main goals for the 77-year-old: getting distance from the human-trafficking allegations, and keeping video evidence, which police claim they have, sealed, and that there are expected to be intense negotiations leading up to next week’s court date.
Jupiter police say they have Kraft on surveillance video entering Orchids of Asia Day Spa, paying for services and receiving oral sex on two occasions, including on the day of the AFC championship game in January.
There is no evidence that Kraft dealt with anyone involved in trafficking or who was a victim of trafficking; the women he interacted with had valid driver’s licenses and massage therapist licenses.
Because of Florida law, law enforcement officials expect that the video could be made public, but Quinn wrote that Kraft is expected to file a motion requesting that the videos remain sealed (which he did on Wednesday); if Kraft or others reach diversion agreements, the videos would be sealed anyway.
In addition to admitting guilt, the deferred prosecution offer requires completion of an education course about prostitution, 100 hours of community service, screening for sexually transmitted diseases and payment of court costs.
Survivors send letter to Roger Goodell
ESPN also reported that a letter signed by 19 survivors of sexual abuse and 60 organizations dedicated to fighting sexual exploitation was sent to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday. The letter presses Goodell to ban Kraft from the league if he is found guilty of soliciting sex.
On Wednesday, Quinn tweeted that the NFL has investigators in Jupiter and West Palm Beach, trying to find out if there is more to the Kraft story than is already known, like whether he’d visited Orchids of Asia on other occasions or other parlors.
Regardless of what ultimately happens legally for Kraft, he can still be punished by Goodell under the personal conduct policy, which applies to all members of the league, including team owners.
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