Florida Judge Expected To Rule Next Week On Release Of Robert Kraft Prostitution Sting Video
PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) -- A Palm Beach County judge is expected to rule next week whether potentially damaging undercover video allegedly showing New England patriots owner Robert Kraft paying for sex acts can be made public.
The billionaire owner was one of 25 men caught up in an undercover sex sting operation at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter in February.
Kraft's lawyers argued in court Friday the video should not be released because it would jeopardize Kraft's right to a fair trial and that it was an invasion of privacy.
Police secretly places hidden cameras in the day spa to gather evidence of suspected human trafficking.
Kraft, who did not attend the hearing, has pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor charges of soliciting prostitution and has requested a jury trial.
Several media outlets, including CBS4 News, argued the video should be made public.
"It's in the public interest because a number of people have been accused of criminal actions and the public needs to know whether the state is acting properly in shutting down that activity," said media attorney Martin Reeder.
Kraft's lawyers filed a second motion Wednesday to request all video evidence be suppressed.
The motion argues the release of video evidence would "destroy any prospect" of a fair trial.
"There are three pillars in our argument," Kraft attorney William Burck explained in court Friday.
"The first pillar is that we think that it's already exempt because it's an active criminal investigation as part of an ongoing prosecution. Second, we think that the motion to suppress on fourth amendment grounds raises meritorious issues that should be heard by this court before any decision is made by the town of Jupiter or state to release this video. Again, we have not asked for discovery so both of those pillars I think we are in the clear from the Florida sunshine law perspective. Third, we believe the video would compromise Mr. Kraft's right to a fair trial."
He also said Kraft's "constitutional right to privacy" should be held in higher regard than whatever "prurient interest" the public might have in seeing the videos.
"It's basically pornography," Burck said in support of his motion to prevent release of the videos. "There's no need to see the video unless you actually have a prurient interest in seeing the video. The fundamental problem is that the video is only going to appeal to the prurient interests of certain segments of the public."
Prosecutors argue that Kraft is not due any privacy rights because this is a criminal case.
Separately, Kraft's attorneys have asked the judge to keep the video out of the trial, arguing in part that police obtained it illegally. His defense first filed that request March 28, and a hearing on that matter is scheduled for April 26.
Hundreds of people were charged statewide in the multi-jurisdictional sting that began in October of 2018 and also resulted in about 300 male customers being charged, 10 massage parlors being closed and their owners charged with felony prostitution.
Investigators initially said they were targeting human traffickers. But Assistant State Attorney Greg Kridos told the judge Friday that there was no evidence of human trafficking at the Jupiter spa.
Burck said the previously highly publicized allegations of human trafficking by both police and State Attorney Dave Aronberg had amounted to "politicking."
The Palm Beach State Attorney's Office has also confirmed that five of the 25 accused 'johns' in the case have accepted a plea deal. They are Roger Buglione, 74, Timothy Goering, 52, Richard Palmer, 49, Randy Robaina, 38, and Alan Weinberger, 58.
For these five men, the deal means the soliciting prostitution charge will be dismissed, they have to pay a $5,000 fine, serve 100 hours of community service and admit they had knowledge of illicit activity.
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