CNN reported that on February 22, police in Jupiter, Florida, announced that Robert Kraft was one of a number of men being charged with a misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution in connection with their visits to the Jupiter Day Spa. The charge is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a $5,000 civil penalty, and 100 hours of community service. Kraft is the owner of the New England Patriots (NFL), New England Revolution (MLS), and Gillette Stadium, which is where both teams play. He is also the CEO of The Kraft Group, and is worth $6.6 billion.
Police report that Kraft went to the massage parlor on January 19 and 20, the day that the Patriots won the AFC championship and a berth to the Super Bowl. Both times, Kraft engaged in paying for sexual acts. This can be confirmed, because on January 15, a detective was granted a search warrant that legally permitted police to install hidden cameras in each of the massage rooms and the lobby.
Despite this evidence, when prosecutors offered Kraft a deal that included dropping all charges, 100 hours of community service, undergoing STI screening, and taking a class on the dangers of soliciting prostitution, he rejected it. Kraft and his team of lawyers are working to ensure that the video footage captured by law enforcement will not be released. Some legal experts have concluded that this is the real reason why he is rejecting the deal.
In an article from Justia Verdict, one legal expert referred to Kraft as the canary in the coal mine. Here is what it means: when miners descended into a coal mine, they would bring a canary with them, since they couldn’t detect carbon monoxide levels. Carbon monoxide poisoning would affect the canary before it would affect the miners, so whenever they were in the depths of a coal mine and the canary died, they knew that they needed to resurface, lest they die from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Kraft is the canary because he has drawn national attention to the issue of illicit massage businesses (IMBs), and what’s happening to him is deterring other sex buyers from continuing to go to these places. Legally, Kraft is only being charged with soliciting prostitution, but the “prostitutes” are actually transnational sex trafficking victims from China. The Polaris Project has estimated that roughly 9,000 of these IMBs operate throughout the U.S., and these businesses are everywhere—even in the small town of Rossville, GA, which is about twenty minutes from our campus.
The Robert Kraft case is raising awareness of just how prevalent IMBs are in the U.S. and because of this, other sex buyers, known as “Johns,” will certainly be more hesitant to frequent these places, considering that the police can secretly install hidden cameras in the massage parlor rooms.
The Kraft case isn’t over yet, so continue to keep up with it to see how the justice system treats the famous, wealthy criminal. As of now, Kraft and his legal team are seeking to have the charges dropped. According to USA Today, Kraft may not have to appear in court, and his legal team is working to ensure that the video evidence is ruled “impermissible” by the court. If this happens, Kraft may be able to plead not guilty and win. On March 24, Kraft issued a public apology for his behavior.
If you have any questions or want to talk about transnational human trafficking in the U.S., please reach out to me at 251-209-5878 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I have worked with local law enforcement regarding the IMB in Rossville, GA, as well as a few IMB cases with the NYPD in Manhattan. Just this past week, I was in Philadelphia doing the same thing. I would love to share all of my experiences with you, so please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.