Patriots owner Robert Kraft enters ‘not guilty’ plea in prostitution case
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft officially entered a “not guilty” plea in his criminal case for soliciting prostitutes in Florida.
“The defendant Robert Kraft hereby pleads not guilty to all charges and requests a non-jury trial in the above-styled cause,” according to court documents obtained by TMZ Sports.
Police in Southern Florida last week revealed the NFL billionaire was implicated in a monthslong investigation into prostitution and sex trafficking rings, allegedly run out of local massage parlors and spas. He was hit with two counts of solicitation — one for each of his visits to the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, which authorities have linked to a larger human trafficking ring across several Florida counties.
The 77-year-old widower already has pushed back against the charges with a statement issued through his spokesperson, saying they “categorically deny that Mr. Kraft was engaged in any illegal activity.”
Authorities, however, have said Kraft was twice caught on video paying for sexual favors at the Jupiter spa on Jan. 19 and 20, which was the same day of the AFC championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
According to the charging documents, Kraft was led to a back room where he was greeted and hugged by a female worker. The franchise owner then removed his clothes and allegedly engaged in a sex act before the woman helped him get dressed and hugged him again.
He handed her $100 and another bill that was unidentifiable, according to the complaint. The spa had allegedly been charging $59 for a half-hour of service and $79 for a full 60 minutes.
The police investigation into the Orchids of Asia Day Spa along with several others was aimed at curbing human trafficking, which state attorney Dave Aronberg deemed “an evil in our midst.”
“It’s up to all of us to be the eyes and ears to protect against human trafficking,” he told reporters during a press conference on Monday. “Maybe that’s the good that will come out of this, we’ll have a better understanding of human trafficking.”
Neither Kraft nor any of those arrested so far have been accused of human trafficking.
If convicted on the misdemeanor charges, Kraft faces up to a year in jail, a mandatory $5,000 fine, 100 hours of community service and a class on the dangers of human trafficking. His arraignment is set for March 27, moved up a month from its original April 24 date.
Kraft has been in a relationship with 39-year-old Ricki Lander for the last five years or so. She welcomed a baby girl in 2018, but Kraft is not the biological father. He has previously said the year his wife, Myra Kraft, passed away was “the most depressing year of my life.”
She lost a battle to liver cancer in 2011. She was 68.