The public won’t be seeing videos of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft allegedly receiving sex at a Florida day spa until his case is resolved, a circuit court judge said.
In an order issued Tuesday, Judge Leonard Hanser ruled that Kraft’s right to a fair trial trumps the media’s request for the videos to be released immediately.
However, the videos — that reportedly show Kraft paying for and receiving sex acts from spa employees — will be released as soon as a trial jury is selected, a plea agreement is reached, the state drops the charges or the court determines Kraft’s right to a fair trial won’t be at risk, Hanser said.
Kraft, 77, is one of 25 men charged with soliciting a prostitute, a second-degree misdemeanor, after Jupiter police said the men were caught on surveillance-camera video paying to have sex with employees at the Jupiter, Fla., spa. The billionaire businessman, a part-time Palm Beach resident, is charged with two counts of solicitation and has pleaded not guilty.
A hearing Friday regarding Kraft’s request to suppress the video may change Hanser’s decision.
For now, though, the videos are sealed “to prevent a serious and imminent threat to the administration of justice,” Hanser wrote.
“While we believe that Mr. Kraft’s fair trial rights were not jeopardized by the release of the materials, we respect the court’s decision and look forward to the release of the material in the near future,” said Mark Caramanica, an attorney representing media, including The Palm Beach Post, in filings to make the videos public.
Hanser’s order indicates that he agrees the videos are public record and that he did not agree with Kraft’s attorneys’ argument that the videos violate his right to privacy.
An attorney representing a coalition of media organizations filed with the court to have the videos released because they are public records. Hanser calls those videos a “central piece of evidence” in the case against Kraft, but said that they add little beyond the visual element to what already has been released regarding the allegations against the men.
The order forbids the Jupiter Police Department and the State Attorney’s Office — the two groups with access to the videos — from releasing them.
“The court finds that preventing access at this time to the videotapes sought by (the media organizations) is necessary to prevent a serious and imminent threat to the administration of justice,” Hanser wrote.