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Patriots' Owner Charged with Soliciting Prostitution; Plea Bargain Offered
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Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots football team, has been charged in Florida with two counts of soliciting prostitution.  Prostitution is defined by Florida law as “the giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire.”[1]   Stated differently, paying for sex acts.  Soliciting prostitution consists of acts done to induce, entice, or procure another person to participate in prostitution.  Police surveillance video allegedly caught Kraft engaging in such illegal activity during two visits at the Asia Day Spa located in Jupiter, Florida.  The cameras were hidden inside the facility. In addition to Kraft, the same charges were brought against 24 other men who visited the spa, and both its owner and the manager. 

 

Soliciting prostitution in Florida is a first degree misdemeanor, a criminal act less serious than a felony but more serious than wrongful acts designated as second degree misdemeanors.  Soliciting prostitution subjects a wrongdoer to a maximum of one year in jail plus the following mandatory components of the sentence (meaning the judge has no discretion to dispense with them): 100 hours of community service, a fine of $5,000, and attendance at a class on the dangers of prostitution and human trafficking, the tuition for which defendants must pay.

 

The investigation was triggered when a heath care worker visiting the spa on official business noticed suitcases there, suggesting female workers might be living at the spa .  This is a known indicator of human trafficking which involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain someone’s participation in prostitution.  Millions of people are trafficked in countries around the world.  It is estimated that human traffickers generate many billions of dollars of profit each year. The state attorney prosecuting Kraft’s case described how human traffickers often lure women to the US with the promise of a better life and then force them into jobs as sex workers.  They are often forced to work seven days a week.  Most don’t speak English, making a getaway virtually impossible.  

 

There is no evidence that any of the women Kraft patronized were victims of trafficking.

 

The prosecution has offered all 25 men a plea bargain, meaning an offer made by the prosecutor to a criminal defendant to plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a more lenient sentence and/or an agreement to drop other pending charges.  The benefit to the prosecution is that a conviction is secured and less resources are required than if the case went to trial. The benefit to the defendant of course is that he avoids conviction of a more serious crime and subjects himself to lesser penalties.  Kraft has declined the deal to date.  One reason may be related to his ownership of the Patriots.

 

A concern for Kraft is that the NFL has wide latitude to punish anyone, including owners, for conduct detrimental to the league.  This includes an explicit prohibition of sex offenses.   True even if he is not convicted of a crime.  The NFL has issued a statement saying it is “seeking a full understanding of the facts” andit has pledged to “take appropriate action as warranted based on the facts.”

 

Kraft has a net worth estimated at $6.6 billion.  He was ranked number 79 on Forbes Magazine’s list of the richest people in this country.  His team has won multiple Super Bowls while he has been owner.  He has pled not guilty and has requested a jury trial.

 

Also caught in the sting operation was the former President and Chief Operating Officer of Citigroup, one of the largest global banks, serving more than 200 million customer accounts in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTION:

 In your opinion, what action should the National Football League take against Kraft?

 

 

[1] Florida Statutes, Title XLVI Crimes, Chapter 796 Prostitution, Section 796.07 Prohibiting prostitution and related acts.