Crime Kraft’s attorney fights to keep Orchids of Asia tapes secret
‘Specter of police state’ raised by Robert Kraft attorney in challenge to prostitution case
New England Patriots owner Robert K. Kraft was a legitimate target for Florida law enforcement and their use of hidden video cameras as police investigated prostitution at the Orchids of Asia day spa, a prosecutor said Tuesday.The 2019 charges against Kraft — and 24 other men who allegedly paid for sex at the Jupiter, Florida, spa — were the subject of oral arguments Tuesday before Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals. The court is also reviewing cases against the women who worked at the spa and the cases of dozens of men arrested at other spas in other counties.
An attorney for Patriots owner Robert Kraft on Tuesday argued a surveillance tape from an alleged prostitution sting at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Florida was so invasive it represented “spying,” and should be kept secret.
“He should have not expected the state would be spying on him over the course of these massages by putting secret cameras there,” attorney Derek Shaffer told a Fourth District Court of Appeals panel in a livestreamed hearing.
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A Florida prosecutor, meanwhile, repeated the arguments made in a series of briefs over the course of the appeal that the searches and surveillance of the spa were conducted properly.
“These defendants didn’t leave on their underwear,” said Jeffrey DeSousa, Florida’s deputy solicitor general, of men caught in the sting last January. “Mr. Kraft removed his immediately … apparently that’s an indication he’s going to pay for sex so we were authorized to film that.”
Kraft was handed a significant victory last May when a Palm Beach County judge suppressed tapes of his alleged sex acts at the spa, captured by Jupiter, Fla., police in a five-day sting. Florida prosecutors immediately appealed the ruling, and have since argued that tapes of Kraft’s alleged activity do not deserve the same protection that is extended to innocent women who received legal massages during the same sting.
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“You would never suppress the evidence that was properly seized,” DeSousa said, noting a suppression of after-hours recordings, as suggested by Kraft, would still leave him unprotected.
Shaffer also criticized Jupiter police’sof Kraft after he left the spa one day before the 2019 AFC Championship game in Kansas City, and suggested police never needed to record the spa as part of their probe.
“It’s not that traditional investigative techniques could not work, it was working,” Shaffer said, noting investigators’ financial probes and evidence seizures near the building. “By all indication, traditional investigative techniques were especially fit for (this) purpose.”
Kraft’s solicitation case has been on hold since last July pending the appeal. A ruling was not reached by judges immediately after the hearing.
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