Prosecutors drop intercourse solicitation case in opposition to New England Patriots proprietor Robert Kraft
Owner of the New England Patriots Robert Kraft walks on the field prior to the game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 17, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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Florida prosecutors on Thursday filed court papers saying they are dropping sex solicitation charges against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, after being barred from using surveillance videos that might prove their case.
The move to drop the case against the 79-year-old billionaire Kraft was expected.
Prosecutors had said Monday that they would not seek to overturn a state appeals court decision last month that said they could not use as evidence at trial surveillance videos showing Kraft getting sexually serviced for money at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa, a Jupiter, Fla., massage parlor, on two consecutive days in early 2019.
The videos are the most powerful, and possibly the only real pieces of evidence against the NFL team owner, who had pleaded not guilty in the case.
Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg is scheduled to discuss the case at a press conference on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Aronberg’s office on Thursday filed in court two notices of nolle prosequi, a term that means they will not proceed with prosecution in the case, where Kraft was charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution, a misdemeanor.
“Although there was probable cause to make an arrest, the evidence cannot prove all legally required elements of the crime alleged and is insufficient to support a criminal prosecution,” court filings by the prosecutors said.
Kraft’s second visit to the massage parlor in January 2019 occurred hours before he watched his Patriots beat the Chiefs in Kansas City, Missouri, in the AFC Championship Game, en route to their sixth Super Bowl title.
The criminal case had been on thin ice for more than a year, after a trial court judge agreed with arguments by Kraft’s legal team that the videos should be barred as evidence because Kraft had an expectation of privacy when he went to the massage parlor.
Kraft, who is CEO of the Kraft Group, a private diversified holding company, was one of about two dozen men charged in connection with visits to the spa and another Florida massage parlor in February 2019.
The scene outside Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, FL where New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is alleged to have solicited prostitution, is pictured on Feb. 22, 2019.
Barry Chin | Boston Globe | Getty Images