What I’m Hearing: TCPalm’s Hannah Schwab details the latest in Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s alleged solicitation of prostitutes at a day spa in Florida, including new documents showing he visited the spa the same day the Patriots played in the AFC Championship Game.
This story was updated on Monday, Feb. 25 to reflect new developments in the case.
Police announced Friday that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has been charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution at a spa in Jupiter, Florida.
Kraft, 77, was one of 25 people charged in Palm Beach County on Friday as part of a wide-ranging investigation into human-trafficking across multiple Florida counties. Jupiter police chief Daniel Kerr said in a news conference Friday that police have video evidence of Kraft engaging in sex acts on two separate visits to the Orchids of Asia Day Spa last month.
Here’s a quick rundown of the information that has been released by authorities, the initial reaction and what is expected to happen next with the Patriots owner.
When did Kraft allegedly solicit prostitutes?
According to a probable cause affidavit released by Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s office on Monday, Kraft visited the Jupiter spa on January 19 and January 20 — which was the day of the AFC championship game — to receive sex acts, which were captured by video inside the building.
He spent roughly 40 minutes at the spa on the evening of Jan. 19, and about 15 minutes there on Jan. 20. The Patriots faced, and defeated, the Kansas City Chiefs later that evening.
What did Kraft do?
According to an arrest warrant obtained by Treasure Coast Newspapers, Kraft paid more than $200 to receive sex acts from two women on Jan. 19. He paid more than $100 in cash for a sex act with one woman the following morning.
When asked if Kraft “was there as a regular” or “seemed familiar with this,” Andrew Sharp, the lead detective on the case, answered: “I would say, going through the evidence, yes.”
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What potential punishment does Kraft face?
Police have charged Kraft with “two counts of soliciting another to commit prostitution,” which Aronberg said in a news conference is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Under Florida statutes, Kraft would also be required to perform 100 hours of community service and “pay for and attend an educational program about the negative effects of prostitution and human trafficking, such as a sexual violence prevention education program, including such programs offered by faith-based providers, if such programs exist in the judicial circuit in which the offender is sentenced.”
How big is this investigation?
The human trafficking investigation into Florida spas has been ongoing for at least four months and spans multiple jurisdictions along the Florida coast. The probe has resulted in roughly 300 arrest warrants so far across 10 spas in Florida.
The investigation into the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, which Kraft allegedly attended, began in October. Detectives learned that women, many of whom are from China, lived inside the spa, and investigators found “evidence of bodily fluids on napkins” in trash cans on the premises, according to Treasure Coast Newspapers, which is part of the USA TODAY Network.
How are Kraft, the Patriots and the NFL responding?
Kraft responded to the charges in a brief statement through a spokesperson Friday: “We categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity. Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further.”
The NFL released a one-sentence statement on Friday, then followed up with a longer statement to NFL Network and other media on Monday.
“Our Personal Conduct Policy applies equally to everyone in the NFL,” the league said. “We will handle this allegation in the same way we would handle any issue under the Policy. We are seeking a full understanding of the facts, while ensuring that we do not interfere with an ongoing law enforcement investigation. We will take appropriate action as warranted based on the facts.”
What will happen next?
Because Kraft is a Massachusetts resident, the state attorney’s office has issued a “capias” — a writ requiring him to answer to the charges. He will either have to surrender to law enforcement or have an attorney contact the state attorney’s office on his behalf, Aronberg said.
Aronberg added that “(Kraft) does not have to make a public court appearance” to answer for the charges and can instead rely on counsel. The Patriots owner will likely reach a plea deal with the state and avoid serious jail time.
Contributing: A.J. Perez and Lorenzo Reyes of USA TODAY Sports, Mary Helen Moore of Treasure Coast Newspapers
Contact Tom Schad at email@example.com or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.