Judge temporarily blocks release of Robert Kraft video in prostitution case

Authorities say Robert Kraft was recorded on surveillance footage paying for and receiving sex acts at a day spa in Jupiter, Florida. Prosecutors now say they intend to release this video. Kraft pleaded not guilty to the charges and a spokesman denied that he engaged "in any illegal activity."

Posted: Apr 17, 2019 10:10 PM
Updated: Apr 17, 2019 10:11 PM

A judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked the release of video that allegedly shows New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft receiving sexual services at a Florida day spa, Palm Beach State Attorney's Office spokesman Mike Edmondson told CNN.

An April 29 hearing is scheduled before Circuit Judge Joseph Marx, who issued the temporary protective order, according to Edmondson. The video will not be released before then, he said.

Kraft's lawyers had filed an emergency motion earlier on Wednesday, aiming to block the release after the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office said in court documents it would release video showing Kraft and 24 other men charged after a monthslong, multijurisdictional sting.

Kraft's lawyers have maintained that releasing the video would violate their client's constitutional rights and hamper his chance for a fair trial.

"Mr. Kraft has an obvious and profound stake in any potential disclosure of the sensitive materials at issue, which, among other things, depict him naked, and should therefore be permitted to intervene for the sake of protecting his interests and informing this Court's decision," the defense motion said.

The release would come not in the case against Kraft but in the cases of two women accused of running the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter that Kraft is accused of patronizing, court documents show.

As custodian of the records, prosecutors say state law compels them to release the evidence to the media. They will "pixelate or blur depictions of obscene or pornographic images before releasing such records to the public, absent a court order," the court documents said.

In a separate filing on Wednesday, Kraft's legal team alleged "gross prosecutorial misconduct."

The alleged misconduct "has taken place in related criminal matters pending in this Court and before Judge Joseph Marx and that, if left unchecked, will permit the State to evade judicial review and end run the court's authority to decide submissions pending before it," attorneys wrote in a letter to Judge Leonard Hanser.

"The State's plan to release the Videos notwithstanding the pendency of motions for protective orders if even more disturbing, given that Mr. Kraft has also filed a Motion to Suppress raising serious arguments that the Videos were obtained in violation of is constitutional rights," the letter said.

No ruling in Friday hearing

At a Friday hearing, Judge Hanser did not rule on whether to release video but asked all parties to submit proposed orders in the case by Tuesday.

Hundreds of people were charged in the sting involving several massage parlors and day spas in Florida. Kraft faces two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution. He has pleaded not guilty and requested a jury trial.

Prosecutors offered to drop the charges 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 would not accept the deal.

"I am truly sorry," he 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."

Friday's hearing took place after media outlets, including CNN, requested the video be released.

Video 'basically pornography,' attorneys say

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 allege that investigators provided false information in the affidavit to obtain a warrant for the sting, thus making the video inadmissible. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for April 26.

Kraft's legal team has argued the video is "basically pornography" and asked a judge to prevent the videos' release to the news media, in part because they say it would violate Kraft's right to privacy.

Attorney William Burck told the judge 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, but the court later 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 media coalition's attorneys argued that the public has a right to see the video and that Kraft does not enjoy the right to privacy as a defendant in a criminal case.

In the documents filed Wednesday, State Attorney Dave Aronberg said he cannot wait for a ruling on Kraft's legal challenge.

"The legislative scheme of the Public Records Act does not allow a custodian to delay the production of records to allow the resolution of a constitutional challenge to the release of the documents," he wrote.

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