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Patriots owner Kraft denies prostitution charges

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23rd February, 2019
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Robert Kraft, the billionaire owner of the New England Patriots, faces charges of soliciting a prostitute after he was twice videotaped in a sex act at a shopping-centre massage parlour in Florida.

The 77-year-old has denied any wrongdoing.

The case comes amid a crackdown on sex trafficking from Palm Beach to Orlando in which police planted cameras in massage parlours.

Kraft was not immediately arrested but police said a warrant will be issued and his lawyers will be notified.

They said details about the misdemeanour charges against the owner of the Super Bowl champion team will not be released until next week.

Hundreds of arrest warrants have been issued in recent days as a result of the six-month investigation, and more are expected.

Ten spas have been closed, and several people have been taken into custody on sex trafficking charges.

Jupiter Police Chief Daniel Kerr said he was shocked to learn that Kraft, who is worth $US6 billion, was paying for sex inside a shopping-centre massage parlour, the Orchids of Asia Day Spa.

“We are as equally stunned as everyone else,” Kerr said.

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Most people charged for the first time with soliciting a prostitute in Florida are allowed to enter a diversion program, said lawyer David Weinstein.

Kraft would probably have to perform 100 hours of community service and attend a course on the harmful effects of prostitution and sex trafficking, he said.

The arrest could also get Kraft in trouble with the NFL, which in a statement said only that it is “aware of the ongoing law enforcement matter and will continue to monitor developments.”

Under league policy, players, owners, coaches and other employees can be punished for “conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in” the NFL.

“Ownership and club or league management have traditionally been held to a higher standard and will be subject to more significant discipline,” the policy says.

The Patriots won the Super Bowl this month over the Los Angeles Rams for their sixth NFL championship in the past 18 seasons, making them the most successful team in pro sports during that span.