Robert Kraft’s legal team has been fighting to suppress the release of surveillance video that allegedly shows the New England Patriots owner receiving sexual acts at a Florida massage parlor. Because of an emergency ruling from a Circuit Court judge earlier this week, it doesn’t appear that the footage will be legally released before April 29.
Kraft, 77, is charged with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting a prostitute at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Florida on Jan. 19 and 20. Since the charges were first announced in February, Kraft has denied doing anything illegal and has pleaded not guilty.
The status of the video footage has become a central point in the ongoing story thanks to what it reportedly shows, and also Florida public records law.
What the video shows, according to police
The footage obtained by the cameras, according to Florida police, shows Kraft and other individuals who have been charged with soliciting prostitutes “receiving manual or oral stimulation during massage sessions.”
“The video that we obtained, it shows the act that took place on every gentleman that you have a list of, the act that took place is recorded on that video,” Jupiter Police Det. Andrew Sharp said in February.
According to the prosecutor’s charging document, video footage shows Kraft removing his clothes and receiving sexual acts during separate visits in January. He is also shown paying for his visits.
“It’s basically pornography,” William Burck, Kraft’s lawyer, said on April 12. “There’s no need to see the video unless you actually have a prurient interest in seeing the video.”
Why the video was almost released this week
Defense attorneys representing Kraft (as well as others facing similar charges) filed a motion in late March to keep all evidence in the case – including surveillance video – private.
Media companies filed a motion of their own afterward arguing that the evidence, including the video footage, is public record as determined by Florida law.
In a motion filed on Wednesday, Assistant State Attorney Leigh Miller wrote that, unless specifically ordered not to in court, the state was going to release the video footage to the public in “partially pixelated form.”
Miller wrote, “[Prosecutors], as the custodian of the records, cannot delay the release of records to allow a person to raise a constitutional challenge to the release of the document.”
Why the video was blocked from release for now
In an emergency ruling from Circuit Court Judge Joseph Marx later on Wednesday, the police footage was temporarily blocked from release until late April.
Marx isn’t actually the judge in Kraft’s case (County Judge Leonard Hanser is). However, Marx is the judge in the cases of Lei Wang and Hua Zhang, the day spa’s manager and owner, respectively. And the video footage is evidence in those cases as well.
“I don’t want this released until I’ve ruled,” Marx reportedly said. His next scheduled hearing on the matter is set for April 29.
“I may be on shaky grounds, media, but right is right,” Marx said per ESPN. “To have this happen without a judge passing judgment on it is just wrong.”
Has it been leaked?
On Thursday, attorneys representing Wang and Zhang filed a motion asking for police and prosecutors to be held in contempt of court after reports that the video footage of Kraft had been leaked and was being “shopped around.”
The original report, from the New York Daily News, stated that “an unidentified party is purportedly peddling some of the recording.” According to the Daily News, the “party” contacted TheBlast.com, a celebrity news website, and allowed representatives to see footage from the video of Kraft.
Since the only groups that officially have access to the video are police and prosecutors, the attorneys for Wang and Zhang argued that a potential leak violated any right to a fair trial. Jupiter police spokesperson O’Neil Anderson doubted the validity of the report.
“If anyone had it, they would have released it by now,” Anderson told the Associated Press.