Hearing will determine whether spa video should be used as evidence in Robert Kraft’s case
(CNN) A hearing will be held Friday on whether a surveillance video allegedly showing New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft during a prostitution sting should be allowed as evidence in his case.
Hundreds of people were charged in the sting involving several massage parlors and day spas in Florida. Kraft, who faces two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution at the day spa in Jupiter, has pleaded not guilty and requested a jury trial.
The hearing follows a judge’s ruling Tuesday that the video will not be released to the public until after the trial is underway or the case is otherwise adjudicated.
‘Tawdry but fairly unremarkable event’
In his Tuesday ruling to temporarily seal the video, Palm Beach County Judge Leonard Hanser cited Kraft’s fair trial rights. He ruled it can be released once a jury is sworn, the case is resolved via plea agreement or the prosecutors decide they no longer want to pursue the charges.
“A 78-year-old man walks into a day spa and, in addition to receiving conventional spa services, he allegedly engages in illegal sexual activity,” Hanser wrote in his ruling. “That seems like a rather tawdry but fairly unremarkable event.”
He added, “But if that man is the owner of the most successful franchise in, arguably, the most popular professional sport in the United States, an entirely different dynamic arises, especially if the encounter is captured on videotape and the incident is the focus of much media attention and pre-trial publicity.”
Hanser stated he may reconsider his decision after the suppression hearing Friday.
Two hearings in one week
While the judge ruled Tuesday that the surveillance video cannot be released to the public for now, Friday’s hearing will focus on whether it can be admitted as evidence at Kraft’s trial.
Last week, attorneys representing the women accused of running the day spa that Kraft allegedly patronized filed a court motion saying someone attempted to sell the video. They cited a report published on a celebrity news website that claimed it was “recently contacted by a party who claimed to have obtained portions” of the video.
Prosecutors have offered to drop the charges in exchange for fines, community service and an admission that Kraft would be found guilty if he went to trial, but a source familiar with the case told CNN he would not accept the deal.
“I am truly sorry,” he said in a statement last month. “I know I have hurt and disappointed my family, my close friends, my co-workers, our fans and many others who rightfully hold me to a higher standard.”
A class-action lawsuit
A class-action lawsuit accuses authorities of illegally videotaping customers getting massages at the same Florida spa where Kraft and others allegedly paid for sexual services.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of an unidentified John Doe, who was not charged with a crime for patronizing the Orchids of Asia Day Spa from January 18 to 22, while surveillance cameras were rolling.
A judge in a separate case against the spa owner and manager will hear arguments Monday on whether the state is obligated under Florida law to release the video.