Judges question legality of search warrants in Robert Kraft massage parlor sex case
Robert Kraft's solicitation of prostitution case was back in court Tuesday, with the primary piece of evidence against the New England Patriots owner, police video surveillance, at stake. Florida prosecutors are trying to salvage the evidence after a state circuit court judge ruled last year that Jupiter, Florida, police improperly received and executed search warrants. Without that video evidence, legal experts have said the misdemeanor case against Kraft and 24 other defendants could fall apart. A three-judge panel of the Florida State Fourth District Court of Appeal heard arguments via a Zoom conference call and may render a verdict as early as next week. Kraft did not appear in the virtual hearing, but could have watched via livestream along with the rest of the public. The key question in the case is whether police "minimized" surveillance as required under the law. Kraft's attorneys convinced Judge Leonard Hanser last year that police violated the defendants' rights by running video indiscriminately for the entire three days of their investigation, failing to stop recording when it was clear that some parties were not receiving illegal services.
Court rules secret videos can't be used in Patriots owner Robert Kraft's massage parlor case Kraft, 79, and others were charged in February 2019 in a multi-county investigation of massage parlors that included the secret installation of video cameras in the spas' lobbies and rooms. Police say the recordings show Kraft and other men engaging in sex acts with women and paying them. If convicted, Kraft would likely receive a fine, community service and other sanctions, but he could also be suspended or otherwise punished by the National Football League.
The charges were dropped after the state solicitor general would not seek a second appeal in the case after a lower court decision to throw out evidence related to Kraft’s involvement. Kraft’s legal team challenged the validity of the search warrant that allowed authorities to install hidden cameras inside the spa.
“The personal conduct policy applies to everybody,” Goodell told reporters in late March 2019, following the league’s spring meetings in Arizona. “Commissioners. Owners. Executives. Players. Coaches. And it will be applied to everybody. But it will be done after we get all the facts and have all the information. … We will be fair and smart about it, and that’s what we will do.”