The battle over whether prosecutors can release police surveillance videos of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and 24 other men charged with solicitation of prostitution in Florida heated up Wednesday, and a judge ordered them not to do so until he rules on the matter later this month.
The action was the latest step in a battle over whether the surveillance videos, which were taken in January, should be made public. Kraft and more than a dozen of the other men have refused to accept a plea deal from prosecutors, contending the video and other pieces of evidence were improperly obtained.
Police have said the videos show the men who have been charged engaging in a variety of sex acts with women who were working under the guise of operating a massage parlor.
Kraft's attorneys are accusing the Palm Beach Co. state attorney's office of prosecutorial misconduct and breaking a promise made Friday not to release the evidence until a judge OK's it.
— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) April 17, 2019
Kraft has objected to the videos’ release. “What is the interest the public has in seeing it? It’s basically pornography,” his lawyer William A. Burck said Friday in a hearing in Palm Beach County, Florida.
Kraft has filed motions first to keep the video private so as not to prejudice his case, and then to suppress the video from the evidence entirely because, he argued, it was obtained under false pretenses.
The judge in Kraft’s case has still not ruled on those motions.
The issue over release of the videos is being debated on two fronts: Hua Zhang, 58, and Lei Wang, 39, the two women charged with running a house of prostitution at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, in Jupiter, Florida, where Kraft was arrested, have also sought to keep the videos from being made public. The decision to hold off on any release of the videos until a hearing April 29 was made by Circuit Judge Joseph Marx, who is overseeing the felony case against the two women.
Kraft, 77, is accused of paying for sexual acts at the day spa in January. He is charged with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution. He has pleaded not guilty.
A hearing on whether the video should be allowed in evidence is scheduled for April 26. Then, April 29, the judge in the case against Zhang and Wang will hear arguments on whether the prosecutor is obligated under Florida law to release the video.