The proposed deal, however, calls for Kraft to admit he would have been found guilty at trial
Florida prosecutors have offered to drop charges against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and a number of other men charged with soliciting prostitution, according to a person familiar with the matter, but there is a catch. The proposed agreement calls for the men to admit they would have been proven guilty at trial.
The proposed deferred prosecution agreement calls for completion of an education course about prostitution, completion of 100 hours of community service, screening for sexually transmitted diseases and payment of some court costs.
But in an unusual provision, the agreement also calls for the defendants to review the evidence in the case and agree that, if it were to go to trial, the state would be able to prove their guilt, this person said. It isn’t clear whether Mr. Kraft and others would accept such a condition. When the charges were announced, a spokesman for Mr. Kraft denied he engaged in illegal activity.
A spokesman for the state attorney’s office said that it is the standard resolution for first-time offenders, or they go to trial. A spokeswoman for the Jupiter Police Department did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Mr. Kraft, whose Patriots won the Super Bowl in February, was one of more than two dozen men charged with solicitation last month in Jupiter as part of a multi-city investigation into multiple South Florida spas. One of those locations was Orchids of Asia Day Spa, which Mr. Kraft allegedly visited and received sex acts. Prosecutors charged him with two counts of soliciting prostitution, acts they say were caught on video surveillance. Mr. Kraft has pleaded not guilty.
Legal experts have raised questions about the tactics Jupiter, Fla., police used in obtaining search warrants for an investigation they said was intended to stop a growing human trafficking problem.
Prosecutors and law-enforcement officials had described the investigation as a probe into human trafficking and portrayed the men who patronized the spas as contributing to the demand for sex slavery. In announcing the charges, Dave Aronberg, the state attorney for Palm Beach County, had called human trafficking “evil in our midst,” echoing the rhetoric of law-enforcement officials.
But no one has been charged with human trafficking in the case. Prosecutors’ affidavits have not detailed evidence of human trafficking at Orchids of Asia Day Spa.
“The police are making this case that this is a major human trafficking ring, and that’s why it’s so serious,” said Duncan Levin, a former federal prosecutor and managing partner of Tucker Levin, PLLC who is not connected to the case. “The fact that they had cameras installed in the locations for so long somewhat undermines the claim that there was an extraordinary danger to the people working in the establishment.”
Prosecutors alleged they saw Mr. Kraft, 77 years old, enter Orchids of Asia Day Spa, located in a small strip mall, on two occasions and saw him pay cash and receive sex acts. He was identified in a traffic stop after his first visit on Jan. 19, when he was the passenger in a vehicle, and visited the spa again the next day, before the Patriots played the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game.
At least one of the women Mr. Kraft was alleged to have engaged with was an operator of the spa, while both were licensed, according to Florida Department of Health records.
Mr. Kraft could still face punishment from the NFL, which has said in regards to him that the league’s “personal conduct policy applies equally to everyone.” The league said it would “take appropriate action as warranted based on the facts.”
The league has previously disciplined players in cases where they were not prosecuted.
“I think Kraft’s biggest problem is going to be NFL management,” said David Weinstein, a Miami lawyer and former prosecutor in the Southern District of Florida. “Their standards are far lower than proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Over the next eight months, a sprawling investigation spilled into neighboring cities and counties, outlining a network of spas that authorities describe as brothels where women worked in poor conditions. One of those locations was Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Fla., where prosecutors charged New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft with two counts of soliciting prostitution, acts they say were caught on video surveillance. Mr. Kraft was one of 25 men charged in Jupiter, a slice of a broader operation in which more than 100 across the area were charged.
.. The story of how authorities wound up in a position to accuse Mr. Kraft and others begins with an unusual decision Mr. Snyder made when he first received word about the suitcases. The traditional approach would be to send in an undercover officer to determine if prostitution is taking place, arrest the people involved and “bang, it’s over,” Mr. Snyder says.
Instead, authorities mounted a more ambitious investigation that found Chinese immigrant women were working in slave-like conditions as sex workers at several South Florida spas.
Other clues about the wrongdoing included the women working at the spas only speaking dialects of Chinese. Masseuses are licensed in Florida after an exam that is only administered English and Spanish. Many of the licenses, authorities determined, were fraudulent.
The Super Bowl That Trump’s America Deserves
I’m not really sure why they’re bothering with a Super Bowl this year. Sure, a bunch of people will make a boatload of money, tens of millions of us will reflexively tune in and we’ll find rare common ground over how cheesy the halftime show is. But are we believers anymore? Will we really see the winner as the winner — or just as the charmed survivor of a grossly tarnished process? Be it the New England Patriots or the Los Angeles Rams, the team will have an asterisk after its name. And that asterisk is a big fat sign of the times.
I’m referring, of course, to the miserable officiating that’s arguably the reason the Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs and the Rams beat the New Orleans Saints, leading to the matchup in this coming Sunday’s season-finale game. The Rams in particular were blessed by the referees, who failed to note and penalize a glaring case of pass interference in the climactic minutes. I needn’t describe what happened. Footage of it has been replayed as extensively and analyzed as exhaustively as the Zapruder film.
And it has prompted an intensity of protest, a magnitude of soul searching and a depth of cynicism that go well beyond the crime in question. That’s where the feelings about the Super Bowl and the mood of America converge.
We’re still reeling from a presidential election that was colored if not corrupted by unfair advantages, undue meddling and disrespected rules, and here we have a Super Bowl that’s colored if not corrupted by unfair advantages, undue meddling and disrespected rules. Many fans are rejecting its legitimacy — sound familiar? There are conspiracy theories afoot.
Americans are so down on, and distrustful of, major institutions and authorities that we’re primed to declare their fraudulence, and the National Football League and the Super Bowl are on the receiving end of that. They’re not fresh targets, not by any stretch. But this time we’ve lost all sense of perspective.
.. The missed pass-interference call in the clash between the Rams and Saints was certainly egregious, but every football game is a compendium of good and bad breaks; luck is always a factor and often the deciding one. The Saints had home-field advantage, and their fans created enough noise to addle and even paralyze the Rams on offense. The Saints also made errors galore, blowing the possibility of a lead too commanding to be erased by poor officiating. On a recent episode of his podcast, the sports commentator Bill Simmons methodically broke down the game en route to this conclusion: “I really thought the Rams were better.” He added that “if that’s a neutral field, I think the Rams win.”
That the Rams did win, with an assist from somnambulistic referees, has not gone over well in New Orleans. The Louisiana governor wrote a letterof condemnation to N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell. The New Orleans City Council is considering a formal resolution declaring the outcome an “injustice” and demanding that the N.F.L. thoroughly review its rules. One of Louisiana’s senators has called for a congressional hearing on the matter.
Several Saints ticket holders have filed lawsuits against the N.F.L., variously claiming that they have endured mental anguish, lost the enjoyment of life and been defrauded by the league. A movement in New Orleans to boycott the Super Bowl involves the staging of competing events, vows by many bars not to show the game and pledges by many other bars to show, instead, the 2010 Super Bowl, in which the Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts.
Trump, in an Emperor Nero complaining about the desultory quality of the gladiators moment, also lamented in Alabama that the N.F.L. had become insufficiently violent.
.. It’s not clear how this plays with Goodell’s masters in N.F.L. ownership. They donated many millions to Trump’s presidential campaign; the New England Patriots’ owner, Robert K. Kraft, showered $1 million on the inaugural and has been a vocal ally; and the Patriots’ coach, Bill Belichick, wrote a letter endorsing him last fall.
.. To summarize this exquisite collision of sports, politics and business: The 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem last season, stirring a national debate about patriotism and the treatment of blacks by the police. For that, the N.F.L. owners appear to have blackballed him from the league this year. For that, more players have taken up Kaepernick’s cause. And for that, President Trump disparaged the league and challenged the owners to fire players for exercising their right to free speech — which they have effectively done to Kaepernick already.
And now Kaepernick’s once lonely protest suddenly has many more supporters.
.. They have been active citizens, and that is stirring. This cuts both ways. If an athlete were to engage in protests against, say, abortion or gay rights, that would be no less in keeping with our nation’s finest free speech traditions.
.. It’s striking how completely the president has stood this principle on its head. He taunted N.F.L. owners, urging them to fire players who engage in anthem protests.
“They’ll be the most popular person in this country,” Trump said, “because that’s a total disrespect of our heritage, that’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for.”
.. The president’s invocation of heritage has become his favorite dog whistle; it also deeply misconstrues our traditions. I’ll recruit my departed father into this scrum. Like many young men of his generation, he volunteered to fight in World War II, and he flew missions on a B-17 bomber. Years later, when Vietnam and civil rights and labor struggles bubbled, and protesters sat out anthems and even burned flags, his view was unwavering: He had fought for an America in which citizens could speak and dissent freely and act morally.
.. Curry has not been as explicitly political as James in recent years, but he did not sidestep the moment. President Trump said he was barring Curry from the White House, but Curry had already made a case for not going.
“By acting and not going, hopefully that will inspire some change,” he said, “when it comes to what we tolerate in this country and what is accepted and what we turn a blind eye to.”
The president is an expert provocateur, and one does well not to underrate him. But notice how the athletes’ eyes are so wide open.