New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is facing two charges of soliciting prostitution after surveillance video footage surfaced of him twice paying for sex acts at an illicit massage parlor, Florida police said Friday.
Kraft, 77, was filmed on two different occasions visiting Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida, one of 10 spas that have recently been shut down amidst a six-month investigation into sex trafficking in the South Florida region, the Associated Press reported.
Kraft, who denied any wrongdoing, has not been arrested, but charges have been filed and a warrant has reportedly been issued.
“We categorically deny that Mr. Kraft engaged in any illegal activity,” a spokesperson for Kraft said. “Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further.”
According to local outlet TCPalm, female employees at Orchids of Asia, many of whom are from China, were being kept in “sexual servitude” as part of a human trafficking ring. Hundreds of arrest warrants have been issued in recent days and several have been taken into custody on sex trafficking charges.
Kraft is one of more than 20 men facing misdemeanor charges for soliciting prostitution. Officers involved in the sting obtained video footage of Kraft being driven to the spa and receiving “paid acts” at the spa via planted surveillance cameras and body cameras.
Kraft, who is worth $4.36 billion according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index, has won six Super Bowls with the Patriots since taking ownership of the club in 1994, including one this past season. His other holdings include Gillette Stadium, International Forest Products and a Major League Soccer team, the New England Revolution.
President Donald Trump, a longtime friend of Kraft, commented that he was surprised and “very sad” at the news, according to CNN.
The National Football League has thus far only released a statement saying that it is “aware of the ongoing law enforcement matter and will continue to monitor developments.” It should be noted, however, that the NFL extends its personal conduct policy to the behavior of its owners.
According to the policy, “Everyone who is part of the league must refrain from ‘conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in’ the NFL. This includes owners, coaches, players, other team employees, game officials, and employees of the league office, NFL Films, NFL Network, or any other NFL business.”
It further states that owners “have traditionally been held to a higher standard and will be subject to more significant discipline when violations of the Personal Conduct Policy occur.”