Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Rejects Plea Deal for Prostitution Charge
By Karen Guregian
The first pitch by Florida prosecutors to drop charges against Robert Kraft and others charged in a prostitution sting if they admitted to facts, did community service and took classes on prostitution, didn’t fly with the New England Patriots owner.
But the efforts to work out a deal aren’t over, according to a source familiar with the proceedings.
The source characterized reports that the plea offer was rejected as not totally accurate. It’s likely Kraft’s lawyers will attempt to counter with a more favorable deal in hopes of a resolution. If an accord isn’t reached, the case, in which Kraft faces two charges of soliciting prostitution, could still be resolved in a courtroom.
The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office confirmed Tuesday it had offered Kraft and 24 other men charged with soliciting prostitution a diversion program offered to first-time offenders.
The plea deal called for completion of an education course about prostitution, completion of 100 hours of community service, screening for sexually transmitted diseases and payment of a court fee of $5,000 per count. In return, the charges of misdemeanor soliciting prostitution would be dropped.
But Kraft’s lawyers have made it known that deal wasn’t acceptable.
Kraft “categorically denied” any illegal activity after being charged in the sting operation. He is scheduled to appear in Palm Beach Gardens North County Courthouse for his arraignment on March 28, the day after the NFL’s annual league meetings in Phoenix conclude. His attorneys are allowed to appear on his behalf.
Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Edward Markey said he planned to donate campaign contributions he received from Kraft to an organization that works to end human trafficking.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation -- a group that advocates for eliminating sex trafficking -- called on the NFL Tuesday to ban Kraft from owning a team.
“For a team owner to engage in sexual exploitation is incompatible with the NFL’s personal conduct policy,” said Lisa Thompson, the organization’s vice president of policy and research, in a statement to the Herald. “Accordingly, survivors of sexual exploitation and trafficking, along with other advocates for the eradication of sexual exploitation call on the NFL to hold Robert Kraft accountable by banning him from NFL team ownership.”
The NFL has not taken any action against Kraft but has said its personal conduct policy “applies equally to everyone in the NFL” and it will handle “this allegation in the same way we would handle any issue under the policy.”
Herald wire services contributed to this report.