Lawyers for Patriots owner seek to have sex video thrown out

National and World

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Most Florida second-degree misdemeanors don’t have hours-long pretrial hearings with top-line attorneys and 30 subpoenaed witnesses, including an expert on police procedures — but the State of Florida vs. Robert Kraft is no typical case.

The high-profile attorneys the New England Patriots owner hired went toe-to-toe Friday with some of Palm Beach County’s best, most-experienced prosecutors as they tried to persuade a judge to throw out secretly recorded video police say shows Kraft paying for sex acts at a massage parlor. They want the videos sealed and never seen by the public.

Kraft’s attorneys questioned the lead detective for three hours before lunch with more to come, going over his education and experience investigating prostitution. They went line-by-line through Jupiter Detective Andrew Sharp’s application for the search warrant that allowed him to surreptitiously install cameras in the Orchids of Asia Day Spa’s ceiling.

Attorney Alex Spiro, who represents Jay-Z, Mick Jagger and other celebrities in various matters, even pointed out that while Orchids of Asia advertised on websites catering to the aficionados of prostitution, the spa also offered Groupon specials and was even once promoted on the business section of the Town of Jupiter’s website.

It was also learned that the spa offered an Early Bird special — any customer who arrived before 1 p.m. got a discount.

The defense is trying to convince Judge Leonard Hanser that Sharp’s installation of the cameras was an illegal search and that Kraft’s constitutional right to privacy was violated.

Kraft and 24 other men were charged in February with misdemeanor solicitation for allegedly paying for sex there. The female owner and three employees are charged with felonies and misdemeanors. Kraft, who was not present Friday, has pleaded not guilty but publicly apologized for his behavior.

The prosecutors, some of the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s most-experienced, went straight at Kraft’s defense. Assistant State Attorney Greg Kridos told Hanser that Kraft’s attorneys first have to show that Sharp’s warrant to install the cameras was illegal before they could even argue his rights were violated.

They also need to show that Kraft “had a legally recognized right to privacy when he was in the spa paying for sex from the prostitute,” Kridos said.

Kraft attorney William Burck, who represented former White House Counsel Don McGahn during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, disagreed with Kridos, telling Hanser there is substantial case law saying there is a legal expectation of privacy in such businesses.

The hearing resumed Friday afternoon and will not finish until sometime next week.

Prosecutors say Kraft, whose estimated worth is $6 billion, twice visited Orchids of Asia in January, hours before flying to Kansas City to see his Patriots defeat the Chiefs in the NFL’s AFC Championship Game. Two weeks later, they won the Super Bowl, their sixth under his ownership.

Some of the other men charged along with Kraft have accepted plea deals. Those who haven’t would benefit if Kraft succeeds in getting his videos thrown out, as their attorneys could cite the ruling. Prosecutors originally said the spa might be involved in human trafficking, but have retracted that.

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