FILE PHOTO: NFL Football – Super Bowl LIII – New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams – Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. – February 3, 2019. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl LIII. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
(Reuters) – A lawyer for New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on Friday asked a Florida judge not to make public a video that led to the billionaire being charged in a prostitution sting at a massage parlor, calling the evidence “basically pornography.”
Media companies including ABC and ESPN clashed with Kraft’s defenders, saying the judge would violate Florida’s public records laws by suppressing the video of Kraft receiving sexual services at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida.
The owner of one of the National Football League’s most successful franchises and winner of this year’s Super Bowl was one of hundreds of people charged in February after an investigation unveiled widespread trafficking of young women at Florida day spas and massage parlors.
The 77-year-old billionaire businessman has pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor charges of soliciting sex and requested a jury trial in March.
William Burck, Kraft’s attorney, argued in Palm Beach County Court that surveillance footage from the spa should not be released to the media because it would violate Kraft’s privacy rights, compromise his right to a fair trial, and interfere in an active criminal investigation.
“It’s basically pornography,” Burck told Judge Leonard Hanser. “There’s no interest in actually seeing the video unless you have a prurient interest in seeing the video.”
Kraft’s attorneys filed a motion to suppress the video in March, further suggesting that police did not have a valid search warrant to collect the video as evidence.
Dana McElroy, an attorney representing the media outlets, argued that sealing the video would violate the state’s public records law.
Kraft apologized for his actions in a written statement issued last month.
Reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Berkrot