Florida prosecutors have indicated that they plan to release police surveillance videos of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who was busted in February along with 24 other men for allegedly receiving sexual favors at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, FL.
Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s office said in court papers it is obligated under Florida law to provide the video to the public and the media now and cannot wait for a judge to decide whether it should be kept under seal while Lei Wang is prosecuted as the alleged manager of the Orchids of Asia Spa in Jupiter, Fla.
Wang allegedly managed the spa, and Hua Zhang has been identified by authorities as the owner of the spa. Both women have pleaded not guilty to numerous charges, including maintaining a house of prostitution. -Boston Globe
Kraft's attorneys have sought to have the hidden camera footage excluded from trial, as it was obtained after authorities called in a "fake bomb threat" to plant the cameras under a warrant obtained on suspicion that the spa was involved in human trafficking. He faces two misdemeanor counts of soliciting prostitution during separate visits to the spa on Jan. 19 and Jan. 20, for which he has pleaded not guilty.
Jupiter police got a warrant to install the cameras, and Kraft’s lawyers wrote in Tuesday’s motion that police convinced a judge to sign off on secret filming with a claim, “founded on a fiction,” that human trafficking was suspected at the spa. -Boston Globe
Wang's attorney has similar asked a judge to block the release of the videos while the criminal case is pending. Prosecutors, however, say they just can't wait to release the footage which allegedly includes the 77-year-old billionaire.
"As the custodian of the records, [prosecutors] cannot delay the release of records to allow a person to raise a constitutional challenge to the release of the documents," wrote Aronberg's office on Wednesday, adding "The Public Records Act does not allow a custodian to delay the production of records to allow the resolution of a constitutional challenge to the release of the documents."
An attorney for Kraft described the recording of his actions in the spa as "pornogrphy."
Kraft and 14 other men charged in the case have asked a judge to issue a protective order blocking the public release of the videos, a request opposed by the Globe and a coalition of other media outlets. That request is still pending before Judge Leonard Hanser.
Prosecutors have not taken a stance in that case.
However, prosecutors are now shifting the issue to the prosecution of Wang, who allegedly engaged in sexual acts with Kraft on Jan. 20 that were videotaped by Jupiter police, who had secretly installed a surveillance camera while investigating alleged human trafficking in the spa. -Boston Globe
Prosecutors also said they are obligated to release the videos in the Zhang case, and would move forward with releasing pixelated versions unless told by a judge not to.
"What is the reason the public needs to see the video itself?" asked Kraft's defense attorney William Burck, noting that the explicit details were already made public by Jupiter police.
"The only possible reason to release it is to get eyeballs and clicks" from people who want to watch individuals "engaging potentially in sexual conduct."